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Northern Methodist Episcopal Church

Bellevue Road and Route 329

Royal Oak, Maryland

Talbot County

Additional Churches:
St Stephen's African Methodist Episcopal St. John's Church

 

Context History Description
Floor Plan Comparison Preservation Plan
Contact   Works Cited

 

Context
The Northern Methodist Episcopal Church sits on the southwest corner of Bellevue Road and Route 329 in the town of Royal Oak in Talbot County. The church is surrounded by a new deli store to its north at the intersection of Bellevue and Rt. 329, and to the west of the building is the church parsonage, which faces Bellevue Road. The property that the church sits on at one time belonged to General Benson in the late 1700s and it is believed that the church was constructed by local African-Americans. The church represents a simple construction style.

 

History

Although the history of the building is incomplete, the very name of the church reflects the sectional crisis that penetrated this area before the Civil War. As the nation entered the bloody war, the congregation divided into the “Northern” or “Abolition Methodist Church,” and “The Southern Methodist Episcopal Church..” (Hagood 1970, 116) The congregation of this particular church viewed slavery as a social evil, a commonly held belief (as early as 1796) of the greater Methodist Episcopal Church. As a result, the Methodist Episcopal Church “had been practically excluded from the South, and only ventured to plant outposts along the border States…” (Hagood 1970, 118) Southern Methodist Episcopal Church, also located on Bellevue Road, is a local example of one of those far and in-between “outposts” in Maryland.

No records allude to the names of members of the Northern congregation, but it is very possible that both whites and blacks worshipped together in the same church. According to Rev. L.M. Hagood, who studied the role blacks played in the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1890, blacks were “organized them into [c]hurches, took their own men and made them pastors,…received them [blacks] into conferences with their white brethren, and gave them all the rights and privileges of members and ministers of the Methodist Episcopal Church.” (Hagood 1970, 13) These assurances for black members (plus separate black conferences) were voted upon in the Delaware Conference on July 28, 1864. (Hagood1970, 142)

The Methodist Episcopal Church was quite strong in Maryland, particularly in Baltimore, which “may be considered one of the principal cradles of Methodism, and has all along been in the van of Methodist movements; that some of the most influential, eloquent, and popular men in the Methodist Episcopal Church ‘were born her[e]’.” (Hagood 1970, 120) Baltimore was home of the Centenary Biblical Institute (later renamed Morgan State University), which produced many later leaders of the church in the nineteenth century. The Freedmen’s Aid Society funded the creation of this institute in 1867.

 

Description
The gable-roofed church measures 50 feet deep by 34 feet wide and is composed of a central block, with a steeple vestibule located on the northeast elevation, and a rear vestibule on the southwest end. Both massive in size, with the bell tower, and ornate in detail, particularly with elaborate stained glass windows, the church was quite an extraordinary creation for the times.
The steeple vestibule measures 4 feet deep by 10 feet wide and the southwest elevation vestibule measures 6 feet deep by 11 feet wide. The southwest vestibule has two openings, a door on the northwest side and a window on the south side.
The exterior of the building is sheathed in horizontal board siding. The northeast elevation of the steeple vestibule contains double leaf doors. The northwest and southeast elevations of this vestibule each contain one stained glass window.
The northeast elevation of the center block contains one stained glass window on each side of the steeple vestibule.
The northwest and southeast elevations of the central blocks each contain three stained glass windows

 

Floor Plan
The interior of the church has been greatly altered and is now used for storage, obscuring most traces of the original floor plan. There are a few details still visible, such as the wall coverings. Wainscoting stretches from the floor to a height of approximately four feet, where it meets with a pressed tin wall treatment. The ceiling covering is no longer in place and in many spots the ceiling is completely gone. The eastern portion of the central block is set apart from the main sanctuary by a set of arches, which were added to the sanctuary, along with the bell tower, vestibule, and stained glass windows, during turn of the century renovations. These archways create two alcove areas, measuring 4 feet deep by 11 feet wide, on either side of the steeple vestibule

 

Comparison
Northern Methodist Episcopal Church most closely resembles St. Stephens Church, in terms of style and layout, but it still has its own unique differences, such as a rear vestibule, pressed tin wall treatments, and alcove areas. While both St. Stephens and Northern Methodist Episcopal have pointed arch windows, the latter has very elaborate stained glass, while the former has colored glass. Currently, Northern Methodist Episcopal only has one chimney stack, while both St. Johns and St. Stephens have two for heating purposes. Because the interior of Northern Methodist Episcopal is mostly gone, it is hard to make a fair comparison between it and the other two church buildings.

 

Preservation Plan
Currently the Northern Methodist Episcopal Church serves as a storage facility for its owners. The building is slowly deteriorating, but the owners plan to begin the preservation process.

 

Contact
There is no contact information available.

 

Works Cited
Hagood, Rev. L. M. The Colored Man in the Methodist Episcopal Church, Westport, Connecticut: Negro Universities Press, 1970.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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