Bradley Church History
In March of 1906, nine men gathered for the second quarterly conference of the West End Methodist Church. A building committee was appointed for a new church to be built at a cost of no more than $4000. The committee contracted with Spencer Lumber Company to build the structure at 1315 W. Franklin Avenue and it was completed in September 1907.
Rev. E.L. Bain preached the first sermon on the first Sunday in September. Though no accurate records were kept, it is believed that there were around 75 charter members. Rev. F.W. Bradley organized the Sunday School with 80 members by October 1907. The first minister of the new church was Rev. J.C. Harmon who also served West End Methodist. In late 1910, Rev. J.A. Peeler came to serve the West End –Franklin Ave. charge. In 1912, a newly ordained minister, Rev. Neill C. Williams, Sr. became the third pastor for the next few years and not until 1916 did a minister serve for a regular four-year term. It was during the pastorate of E. P. Stabler that a committee was formed to find a site for a parsonage. It selected a house at 1326 W. Franklin Ave. and paid $2200 for its purchase and $581.00 for improvements. It was at this time that the church building received plumbing.
In the period of 1919-1920, new Sunday School rooms were added increasing the value of the church to $500. In 1920, W. M. Robbins came to serve as pastor and in 1921, Franklin Avenue Methodist became a station which meant the church had its first full time minister. In the intervening 15 years, the church grew from 75 charter members to 250 and a Sunday School enrollment of 350. Six more classrooms were added as well as a modern warm air furnace.
By 1923, the church had grown to 600 members and its buildings valued at $15,000. On Christmas Eve, 1926, the church burned to the ground. Although there was no church building, the Sunday School resumed immediately at the Community House of the Gray-Parkdale Mill.
In 1929, the church purchased it and at this time, the church was named Bradley Memorial in honor of Rev. F.W. Bradley who was so instrumental in starting the new church in 1907. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on September 9. 1929 for a new sanctuary. Plans for the new building were postponed because of the Great Depression. In 1936, the Linwood property which was to be the site of the new sanctuary was sold and the land for our present-day sanctuary was purchased. Also during this time, a new parsonage was constructed and paid for.
In 1938, a new building committee was appointed to oversee the construction of a new sanctuary but faced too many difficulties and was later dissolved. In 1944 another building committee was appointed and this time everything would come together. On April 9, 1950, Easter Sunday, a groundbreaking ceremony was held with the first shovel of dirt being turned by the oldest living charter member, T. Wesley Bradley. Five months later in September, hundreds gathered to witness the laying of the cornerstone. The first Sunday service in the new sanctuary was September 9, 1951 and the building was dedicated on Easter Sunday, April 5, 1953.
In 1956, two lots with houses were purchased beside the parsonage on Webb Street for the construction of a new education building. In 1959, the parsonage was moved down Webb Street and a new classroom building dedicated to children was built in 1963 at a cost of $99,903.
In 1965, the sanctuary was air-conditioned. In 1968, the Church of the United Brethren in Christ and the Evangelical Church merged with the Methodist Church and the United Methodist Church was formed. In 1970, the present-day parsonage was built and also about this time a new Rodgers organ was purchased.
Around 1974, a new building committee was selected for the construction of a new educational building to replace the old Community House. It was completed in 1977 with space for a full service kitchen, fellowship hall, offices, classrooms and a spacious youth room.
In 1994, the church voted to purchase a pipe organ which was installed and played for the first time on February 5, 1995. In 1996, the congregation voted to accept preliminary plans and costs for a new Family Life Center. Ground breaking for the new structure was held on May 4, 1997. In 1998, the Family Life Center was opened and the pipe organ was dedicated.