First Methodist Episcopal Church

Methodist Church Early

by A. K. Hoagland.

Architect: Wells D. Butterfield
Superintendent of construction: A. H. Ryckman
Location: Kearsarge between 3rd and 4th Streets, Laurium
Built: 1902

Methodist Church Early
First Methodist Episcopal Church, as originally built.
Keweenaw National Historical Park.

In 1898 about thirty Methodists living in the relatively young village of Laurium decided to form their own church, separate from the Methodist church on Calumet Avenue in Calumet. Four years later, they had 160 members and a new church building. The cornerstone was laid in June 1902 and the building was dedicated four months later.1

To achieve this, the church hired a fundraiser, Joseph W. Powell of Buffalo, who had raised a million dollars for Methodist churches in the previous year. Powell’s “unique and copyrighted system” was to sell stock in the church, at $36 a share, with interest at 6 percent for that unpaid after January 1, 1903. Through this system, the church’s debt was retired by January 1. The cost of construction was about $14,000.2

Wells D. Butterfield designed a compact church with a prominent brick first floor, clapboarded second floor, and large shingled gables. Large Gothic-arched, stained-glass windows were set into the gables, echoed by a smaller Gothic arch over the doorway, set into a triangular pediment. At the crossing of the gable roofs, a handsome steeple arose. Decorative details included brackets at the cornice, sandstone trim, and buttresses.

Around 1910, the church built a large addition to the south. At the juncture with the new construction, a square tower supported the moved steeple. The new construction used the same materials as the original building. N. S. Bray was the contractor for this work, which cost nearly $10,000. With the new addition, the church could seat 1,000 people.3

The church became the First Methodist Church in 1939 and the First United Methodist Church in 1968. Also in that year, the steeple was removed due to unsafe conditions.4


Methodist Church Mid
First Methodist Episcopal Church, with ca. 1910 addition.
Keweenaw National Historical Park.

Methodist Church Late
Laurium United Methodist Church.
Photograph by A. K. Hoagland, 2015.

Buildings by Wells Butterfield in the Copper Country


  1. Laurium United Methodist Church 85th Anniversary, 1898-1983 (privately printed, 1983), 6.
  2. “Editor J. H. Potts Powerful Talk,” Daily Mining Gazette, October 21, 1902.  “Day of Triumph,” Copper Country Evening News, October 20, 1902.
  3. Laurium United Methodist Church 85th Anniversary, 8.
  4. Laurium United Methodist Church 85th Anniversary, 8.