Thursday, June 2, 2011

Churches of Fountain, Colorado

The 1871 plat of the town of Fountain shows two churches, or at least the lots reserved for them.  One may have been a Society of Friends or Quaker meeting house.  More detail and the interesting 1871 diagram can be found on the About Town page.

These Daily Rocky Mountain News articles, found in an online historic newspaper index (ask your librarian how), show that a Friends meeting house had been built in Fountain by 1875.

Dec 5 1875

Jun 1 1875
First Baptist Church

In 1870, Mr. and Mrs. M.B. Corbin, Mr. and Mrs. T.R. Russell, and J.P. Robinson, under the leadership of Rev. T.C. Floyd, constituted the First Baptist Church of Fountain, Colorado. For the first few years, meetings were held in the homes of the members, or later at the "Friends Meeting house".  In 1884 the first church building was erected. It stood near the Santa Fe Depot, on the corner lot just south of the home of Mrs. Annie Love (In 1960, Mrs. Love was the oldest living member of the church.) The church was wrecked by the great explosion of 1888. The structure was rebuilt in 1890, and stood at the same location as the original church, until March 1913 when it was moved to its present location at 201 N. Main Street, where it was enlarged and remodeled.  It is said that the beams under the church show evidence of the move.

Love House

In the early years of the church, candidates for baptism were taken to nearby streams and lakes, where baptismal services were held.  However, in 1908, a baptistery was built in the church below the stage. Chester Ames was the first to be baptized in the new baptistery. The original parsonage was located at 317 S. Race Street, the home of Mrs. Annie Love (1960), and was built in the early months of 1904. Upon its completion, a house-warming was held on June 16th, 1904. Rev. D.S. McGlashan was the pastor at the time. The First Baptist Church of Fountain is reported as one of the oldest churches in Colorado. Someone once said, “To have had a well- furnished and well-built church by 1884 was the sign of a strong community and a devout congregation”.

Old Baptist Parsonage on Main Street, sold in 1981
Donna Koop has a copy of the program from the Golden Jubilee of the church, held in 1920.  The first pastor was FC Floyd in 1870-71, followed by F. Mitchel from 1875-78.  Rev. Clark served from 1883-1886. 

These members were listed in the 1920 program as having been with the church for more than 25 years:
GN Crabb joined in Sep 1882
Florence Robinson Jul 1883
Ray Robinson Jan 1878
Fred D. Crabb Feb 1890

Lucy Eichel may 1893
Edna Crabb Sep 1894
Elizabeth D. Love had been a member from 1872 to 1919, at which time she moved to Azusa, California.

In the inventory of historic buildings in El Paso County, conducted in 1976 by Andrew Gulliford, this church was claimed to be the second oldest in Colorado, but no supporting documentation was given.  Much of the history utilized was published in Kay Larson's history of the valley.

Out West newspaper, Colorado Springs, Sep 5 1872

The Methodists of Fountain will hold a large camp meeting in the graove about 3 miles below Fountain Station, on the Denver & Rio Grande Railway, beginning on Thursday next, the 10th instant, and continuing until the following Sunday. The grove was thoroughly prepared a year ago for a similar purpose.

Free Methodist Church
In 1884, a new church was built in Fountain.  Reverend Loomis was the minister of the Free Methodist Church.  (He was crippled by flying debris in the train explosion on May 14, 1888, but that’s another story.)
Miss Hovena Lock was going to church there, and she was keeping company with Tom O’Tool. John Spicer, a carpenter, attended the Free Methodist Church and there he met Hovena.  She couldn’t make up her mind between John and Tom. One Sunday Hovena had a date with Tom to go riding and John showed up first, and their courtship continued. On Aug 31st, 1885 John Warren Spicer and Hovena Idea Lock were married on the Lock ranch, south of Fountain on Old Pueblo Road.  

In 1909, Miss H. Handyside was the pastor of the church.  The Free Methodist Church building is now the Times of Refreshing (TOR) Tabernacle on West Ohio. 

The 1910 census, here showing Fountain, lists Hattie Handyside as a 54-year old woman born in New York.  Her occupation was recorded as "own income" and she lived on Ohio, possibly next to the church.  Nearby neighbors were Lewis Virden, a salesman, and Charles Keys, proprietor of a hotel, who both lived on Missouri. 
The property was evaluated in 1976 during a survey of historic buildings in El Paso County.  Andrew Gulliford, the author of the report, noted that there was disagreement as to the building's age.  Kay Larson dated it to 1891, but Mary Bystrom, a long-time resident, said 1912.  The disagreement may be his confusion between the two Methodist churches - this one at 125 West Ohio, and the First Methodist Church on Main Street.

Methodist Church

In the spring of 1909 the J.E. Kurtz family moved to Fountain from Alton, Kansas. The family had been Methodists for generations. Mr. Kurtz’s father had been a pioneer Methodist preacher in the Northwest Kansas Conference and Mrs. Kurtz’s grandfather had been a pioneer preacher and circuit rider in the Illinois Conference.
During the winter of 1911, the late Dr. Henry M. Mayo, a close friend of the Kurtz family and at that time superintendent of the Pueblo Methodist District, called at the Kurtz home and learned of the church situation in Fountain. Dr. Mayo arranged with evangelist Walter O. Woolever, known as the “Sunshine Evangelist” of the conference to begin a series of revival meeting in March of 1912. Arrangements were made with the Baptist people to hold the services in their church. At the close of the meeting a number voiced their desire to unite with the Methodist Church and an organizational meeting was held at the Kurtz home in early April of 1912.  Charter members of the Fountain Methodist Church: Mr. and Mrs. H.E. Kurtz, Harry, Wayne, Russell, Luther, Frank, and Eugene Kurtz, Mr. and Mrs. N.H. West, Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Potter, Mr. and Mrs. C.M. Clawsen, Mr. and Mrs. I.T. Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Traller, Mr. and Mrs. S.W. Thompson, Mrs. Joe Collins, Miss Rita Spicer, Mrs. Molly Virden, Ladonia Virden, Herbert Virden, and Cora Virden, Coral Toothman, and Frank Bonner.

Dr. Mayo sent Rev. Charles Mathis to act as pastor until the Annual Conference which convened in October. The Free Methodist Church was used for services for awhile as they were temporarily without a pastor. It was soon realized that the new church needed a building of its own. The lot for building the church was donated by S.W. Thompson. The pastor announced that the dedication would take place the following Sunday. Faithful member worked from dawn to dusk and completed the building by the end of the week. Ordinary kitchen chairs, furnished by the members, served as pews and the building was ready for dedication free of debt.
In October 1912, Rev. George T. Sledge was appointed pastor of the church. Soon he was appointed to organize two country points- Hanover, east of Fountain, and Wigwam, south of town, thus making a circuit. He preached at these points on alternate Sunday afternoons, and the church presented Rev. Sledge with a Ford Runabout automobile to make the trips. 
Rev. George Sledge (right) was the 2nd pastor of the Methodist Church, organized in 1912. 

When the First Methodist Church was organized in 1912, it had 50 members, a Sunday school with 18 officers and teachers and 80 in attendance, and an Epworth League. The minister’s salary was $395.00 a year, which also included the annual Conference and claims. The church building was a shell with no permanent foundation, and a pot-belly stove to heat it. The people would sit in a circle around the stove in the winter to keep warm. They had an old foot-pump organ and often it was so cold in the church, the organ wouldn’t work.  Rebuilding of the church began on January 1, 1926, and it was completed in June, while Vernon Tybee was pastor.

This history is from an article entitled Organization of the First Methodist Church of Fountain, Colorado, which may have been written by Mary Bystrom.


Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church
The history of this church dates to 1920. In the 1920’s the local Catholics began celebrating Mass in various homes and became a mission of the Corpus Christi Church of Colorado Springs. Until 1935, two priests served Fountain.  Fr. Felix Able said Mass once a month in homes in Fountain until 1930 and from then to 1935 Fr. Anthony Elzi performed the function. In 1935, Fountain was made a mission of Pauline Chapel parish of Boardmoor (which was built on Mrs. Julie Penrose’s land), with Fr. Michael Harrington saying Mass in homes.
A building was researched for a church. The building of interest had been built in 1918 to house the First National Bank of Fountain, which became defunct in 1929. For 5 years the building remained vacant, after which it was sold to Olen Cossel who operated the Heidelberg Inn beer parlor at that location for 2 years. In 1936, Bishop Urban J. Vehr and Fr. Harrington purchased the building from Mr. Cossel for $2,000, of which the Catholic Extension Society paid $1,000, Mrs. Julie Penrose gave $500, and Fountain’s people gave the remaining $500. This building became Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church.  Pauline Chapel and Fr. Harrington’s friends in Colorado Springs and Fountain donated everything needed to furnish the church. Bishop Vehr blessed the building and grounds shortly after purchase. For ten years Mass was said the first and third Sunday of each month.  There was a large hispanic population and Father Harrington always read the gospel in Spanish and English.
Many priests have served Saint Joseph’s Church over the years. The church started plans for an expansion and looked at using their large lot to the north side of the property.  An early 1940’s jewish chapel from Fort Carson was purchased and moved to its new location on Main Street, adjacent to St. Joseph’s  [Advertiser and News Feb 16, 1972 B3].

Hedy Nistle's Stained Glass windows
In about 2008, Saint Joseph’s parish merged with the Holy Family Church of Security to form Saint Dominique’s.  A new church was built south of Venetucci Farm, on of Hwy 85/87, in 2010. 
Martinez Wedding
Congregational Church
In August 1904, the Congregational Church was organized and the old Riddoch, Rhinehart and Reed building was rented and used for services. In 1909, the building was purchased by the church.  It was remodeled, the stairs were removed and the stage changed to a rostrum. In 1921, the Congregational Church disbanded and in 1922, the Women’s Improvement Club took over the building.  During the time the club was active, this was used as a meeting place, and for town gatherings and as an election polling place. On March 4th, 1938, the building was demolished.  [It appears that the Congregational church held services in the opera house.]

This photo from 1920-21 may be a revival, held on Ohio Street at Main.  The brick bank is visible at the right, with the town's opera house seen behind (west of it).  The opera house was formerly half of the wooden school, which was moved in about 1903-04.
Sources: Bulkley family files (PPLD Special Collections), First Baptist Church
0th anniversary bulletin (1960), First Methodist Church history booklet 1912-1983, newspaper clippings: Colorado Prospector, and Security Advertiser and Fountain Valley News.

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