Building the Congregational Church
and a New Ogden Academy, 1887
History of Congregational United Church of Christ, Ogden
A Continuing Series by Dr. Gordon Harrington
Copyright, 2011, Gordon Harrington
It was determined that larger and better facilities were needed for both the church and the school. Thus in 1887, a campaign was begun to raise money for each institution. Mrs. Lydia Bailey, wife of the pastor, embarked upon a five-month tour of Congregational churches in the East soliciting funds. She visited churches in twelve different states and raised $2,500 for the church and $9,000 for the Ogden Academy. While Mrs. Bailey was away, Mrs. Harriet S. Emerson went about locally obtaining pledges, raising enough to purchase the land on which to build the church.
The foundations of the church were laid on Sept. 27, 1887. The church building and lot, located at 2464 Adams Avenue, cost $7,000. It was red brick with a floor plan in the form of a Greek cross. A church in Rutland, Vermont, sent large lamps, which hung from the ceiling by chains. The communion table was given by a Sunday school in Wallingford, Vermont. The pulpit was sent from a church in Michigan, and a set of chairs for the pulpit were presented by a church in La Cross, Wisconsin. When funds ran short before the southeast corner tower could be completed, Mrs. Emerson solicited friends near and far and obtained enough to complete the structure.
Gifts to the church continued to flow in. A prominent example was a silver challis used for communion wine. It was provided by the Infant Class of the Second Congregational Church in Stonington, Connecticut, and was engraved with the date June 11, 1894. Although that church no long exists the kindness of its children is still memorialized by the continuing use of its gift by the current membership of the Ogden church.
While the First Congregational Church was being built, there was similar activity next door at the Ogden Academy. At the close of school in June 1887, the two-room school house was torn down to make room for a larger structure on the same site. The new building was designed by Messrs. Patton and Fisher, architects from Chicago. The contract for erection of the building was awarded to Mr. Daniel F. McDevitt of Butte, Montana. He had offered a low bid of$14,225 and had agreed to finish the building by the first of December.
At the same time the New West Commission and the church bought two thirds of an acre adjoining the church. To that site they moved an old two-story house from the back of the school lot. This building was used temporarily as a school in the fall of 1887. Afterward it was converted into a boarding house for students from out of town.
Ruth Bullock remembered the opening of school in September 1887, in this old building:
… our first day in this small building was a gloomy one, for an untimely and fierce snow storm came our way, loading trees heavily, breaking branches and playing havoc. There was no heat in the building so we were dismissed until the next day. Stoves were set up and we were comfortable and really enjoyed this sort of camping out school and did very well.
When finished, the new building was a two-story red-brick edifice, measuring 70×76 feet with a projection on one side of 18×27 feet. There were three classrooms, 25×33 feet on the first floor and a primary room 25×37 feet. The second story contained a hall for assemblies, 48×67 feet. There was a side room 25 feet square, which could be closed off from the assembly hall by folding doors. When used together the assembly hall and the side room could hold 640 persons. There also was a second-story room 25×43 feet for reading or recitation purposes. The basement contained a large laboratory, and rooms for other purposes, one of which became a museum. Hot-air furnaces heated the building. In describing the school rooms the New West Gleaner noted that they
have been arranged very carefully, so that the light will in every case come from the left and behind the pupils, the teachers dais being always at the end of the room, so that the main light will come from the long side on the left. This is considered the most perfect lighting.