Matthews Memorial Methodist Church – Berry

The Hemphill Heights Mission was organized in 1912 by the Rev. H. M. Ratliff, with about 20 charter members, an outgrowth of a Sunday School founded by the Rev. Alonzo Monk earlier that year. A meeting hall was erected on Hemphill Street soon after, and was replaced by a masonry structure in 1923. Structural failures in this building prompted the congregation to purchase the present site in 1935. Construction of a building began in 1936 and was completed in 1938. The name was changed to Matthews Memorial Methodist Church in appreciation of the aid given by the family of the Rev. W. H. Matthews. The congregation grew rapidly during the war years. Ground was broken for a new sanctuary in the summer of 1948, which was dedicated the following April. Designed by architect Preston M. Geren, the gabled brick structure is clad in stucco, with red-tiled roof. An elaborate entry surround and bell tower have Spanish Renaissance/Baroque styling. The interior is unaltered. The older building was remodeled at the time to match the new sanctuary. An education wing was added to the rear in 1954-55. The ensemble is a late but impressive example of its style, and is a visual anchor in a cluttered commercial strip. The University United Methodist Church is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural significance as an example of the Spanish Eclectic style as applied to a house of worship.

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