When Phil Mazahreh purchased his home, located a block from Lincoln Park, in 2009 he was told that his house might have been a church at one time. Consequently, he asked me if I could verify or deny that information. My findings follow: According to a map of the city of Monroe in the 1891 Green County plat book, I was able to verify that there was a church near his house, but not his home. The church had been located at 2005 13th Avenue for many years.
The Seventh Day Advenists had organized a church society in Monroe in 1860-61 with 25 members. As the Universalist Society had also done, their first meetings were held in the old Court House until 1864 when the “New Light Christians” Meeting House, located where the current Grace Lutheran Church is now located, was purchased.
This group held their regular annual camp meeting for Wisconsin and Illinois in a grove just south of S. E. Miner’s for five days starting September 22, 1866. Much of that time was spent in prayer and social meetings. The public was invited to attend, with preaching each evening by the Elders of the conference and “from abroad.”
It was announced in July 1870 that they were talking of “building a new church in their settlement south of the railroad.” J. D. Mosher purchased the property at 15th Avenue and 11th Street less than a month later and used the original church for his marble works. He had to “to refit the building for a marble shop and store room.” By August 24 it was announced that, “The Adventists have nearly completed their new church in the south part of town.” There was no description printed of what the church looked like at this time. The same announcement was made again on September 28. In addition to the construction of this church, three more churches were being built in the city at that time — one for the Episcopals, another for the Methodists, and yet another for the Baptists.
According to a small writeup in the 1891 city directory, “The church grew apace, to include 45 members, with a Sabbath School of about the same number. The removal to other parts of many of the leading contributors, left the society without the support necessary to maintain a minister. For several years the building has remained closed and given no sign of its faith. William Ingraham, Isaac Sanborn, G. C. Tenney, and William Sharp were successively the pastors of the now defunct society.”
Three years later on April 11, the Monroe Sentinel reported the following, and then added an editorial comment. “There is some talk here of the Advent Society building a church. As there are more churches than congregations here, at present, we suggest that the better way would be that one of the buildings now here be rented to them at a reasonable rate.” It is unknown why they would have thought about building a new church when they still owned one. In November 1895 they were holding meetings again “at their church in the south part of town, conducted by a couple of ministers sent out by the general state conference.”
I noticed nothing more in the newspapers about this society until 1909 when the church property was put up for sale on September 13 by auctioneers T. L. Summeril & Son with P. F. Chase as manager. This time there was a description of the property, which consisted of two lots, which had a 67.5-foot front and was 132 feet deep. The building was 24 by 36 feet and 16.5 feet from floor to ceiling with sidewalks on the north and east sides. The property was surrounded by thirty beautiful shade trees. The ad stated that the building had “been well kept and in good condition and is [a] very desirable resident [sic] or business location.” Possession was to be given immediately. The church furnishings, an Estey organ, a stove, and some kindergarten fixtures, were sold at 1:30 on the same day. There was a short notice in the paper that day about the auction, but the name of the buyer could not be read on the microfilm.
More than a decade later, in April 1920, the property was again sold by Leon E. and Chester Goetz to J. B. Chapin, of Orangeville, who took possession on May 15. The Goetz brothers had just purchased the residence from Mrs. C. A. Goddard that same week.
— Matt Figi is a Monroe resident and a local historian. His column will appear periodically on Saturdays in the Times. He can be reached at email@example.com or at 608-325-6503.