Methodist Church of St. Augustine FL began in the parlors of the Old Florida House
Hotel. George Atkins, from Asbury Park, New Jersey, came to
St. Augustine, and was instrumental in organizing a
Methodist Episcopal Church founded in 1881. The small
congregation met in various locations over the next three
the winter of 1884, construction of the “Olivet Methodist
Episcopal Church” building had progressed to the point that
the congregation held services in the new building. Pews
were made from construction material spread between nail
kegs, and the windows were covered with muslin. The
building was constructed on the corner of Tolomato (now
known as Cordova St.)
and King Streets in St. Augustine FL, on land that was later needed for the
plans of Henry M. Flagler.
Mr. Flagler had started construction on
the Ponce de Leon Hotel and envisioned a courtyard
surrounded by three of his hotels. To accomplish that
vision he needed the land where the Olivet Church stood. In 1886, he made a proposal to the trustees to donate the
land on the corner of Carrera and Cordova streets and to
build a church and parsonage on that site in exchange for
the Olivet church land and building. The proposal was
accepted and construction started in 1886.
buildings were designed by Carrere and Hastings and erected
by McGuire and McDonald, the same architects and contractors
that planned and built the Flagler hotels and Flagler
Memorial Presbyterian Church, thus forming one of the most
impressive, cohesive architectural complexes in the
nineteenth century America.
Grace Church has remained a vital
congregation for well over a hundred years, sustained in its
witness to this day by many dedicated men and women. Among
distinguished members of Grace Church is the family of H.W.
Davis, who served as Sunday School Superintendent for fifty
years. His daughter, Dr. Wilma E. Davis (1890-1992) was
baptized at Grace and became the first woman ordained an
Elder (1929) in the St. Johns River Conference of the
Methodist Church, antecedent of the Florida Conference of
the United Methodist Church.