While Cuba City is a comparatively “young” town in an area settled many years ago, the roots of our thriving church were planted as one of the first churches in this section of the state. Records tell us that in 1847, Rev. Smith, a traveling evangelist, organized a Methodist Episcopal Church at Jamestown which became a progressive settlement. Services were held in the “Puckerville Schoolhouse” in Smelser Township where Cuba City is now located.
In 1855, the Rev. John Murrish, a circuit rider with energy and zeal, served as the third preacher. He extended his pastorate to include not only Jamestown, but the villages of Georgetown, Fairplay, and Dickeyville. This was called the Jamestown Mission in the Platteville District of the West Wisconsin Conference.
This Jamestown Mission headquarters prospered and built a handsome frame church for $900 located in the township of Jamestown, a short distance west of west of which is known as the “Sisson Place” on the road to Dubuque. A Sunday school was established in 1857.
Georgetown attracted many fine families and by 1874, this church became so strong that the name was changed to the Georgetown Circuit. Later, a church was built on the land now known as Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Cuba City and it belonged the Benton Parish. Three services were held on Sunday to provide enough space for the crowded worshippers who drove to church in lumber wagons and tied their team to hitching posts in the yard.
Retiring farmers moving to town and others preferring to drive a shorter distance caused the congregation to decrease rapidly after the Cuba City church was built. In less than two years, the church was abandoned. This church was sold to Sam Clemens who moved it into Cuba City as a hall, then a hardware store. It sill forms the front part of what used to be known as Cook’s Garage – now known as Hughes Body Shop. In 1884 and 1885, under the leadership of Rev. J.M. Phelps, that the First Methodist Episcopal Church was established and a suitable edifice was built in the northwest corner of Main and Yuba Streets. At the quarterly conference, it was voted to build a parsonage and the cost was not to exceed $1,000. The contract for the carpenter work was awarded to the lowest bidder for $155. This parsonage was built on the southwest corner of the intersection of Main and Yuba Streets where the present church stands.
It was not until 1895, that the name of the charge was changed to Cuba City. In 1904, under Rev. A. Verran, the church edifice was greatly improved adding a new wing, colored glass windows, and other repairs and additions. In 1920, under the pastorate of H.E. Evans, a new parsonage was purchased for $9,000 from Elmer McNett, who made a generous donation to the fund. Shortly after, the old parsonage was sold to John Riege for $1,250 and moved to his property on West Calhoun Street. This house and grounds became a part of the school property in the summer of 1941.
In September 1929, the church was moved across the street to the lots on which the former parsonage stood. The sanctuary was lengthened, a basement was constructed under the whole building, and other improvements were finished by the following May for $12,930. The site of the old church was sold to Cecil Steinbach for $1,000. The debt was gradually liquidated and the mortgage was burned on October 12, 1941.
The largest merger in American Protestant history occurred in 1939. It came to a climax in a Uniting Conference, which completed the series of actions dissolving the former Methodist Episcopal, South Methodist, and Methodist Protestant Churches, and creating a new denomination, The Methodist Church. This unique conference met in May, 1939 in Kansas City, Missouri, and consummated many ears of negotiations. The name of the church was changed from The Methodist Episcopal Church to The Methodist Church under Pastor Re. A. Nimz. A dossal was purchased for the west end of the sanctuary before which a simple altar stands bearing a cross and two brass candlesticks. Through the work of the young people, the flag of our country and the flag of our church were purchased and dedicated in September, 1941.
In 1948, a Hammond organ was installed. The Methodist Men’s Club and the Women’s Society of Christian Service planned the rebuilding of the church which was completed in 1949.
Other changed occurred in 1969 when the northwest corner of the Sunday school room was made into a pastor’s study. This work was completed by the Methodist Men’ Club for $400.
After the consolidation of the Evangelical United Brethren Churches and the Methodist Church, the Articles of Confederation were renewed and the name of our church became the United Methodist Church on March 5, 1970.
Protective storm windows were installed in 1971 to protect the stained glass windows which need repair. In May 1974, the outside front steps were a problem, so an enclosed stairway addition to the northeast corner of our church was built consisting of a bell tower, a street level entrance, steps to the enlarged foyer and to the lower level, two class rooms and a storage area. Work was completed in 1975 and all paid for by 1979. A new electric organ was purchased, the kitchen remodeled, and a ramp was built from the alley along the west side of the church to a new double door entry into the overflow room in 1982. The glass window over the inside floor has been over the front door of our church since 1904.
In 1983, the sanctuary gained a stained pine board and beam ceiling. The walls were insulated and painted, and the pews and floor were refinished. New carpeting and dossal cloth added to the sanctuary beauty. In 1984, the basement ceiling was lowered, walls were insulated and paneled along with a new heating unit. Dedicated choir members, organists, and a director provide beautiful music for Sunday worship and special celebrations. Music being a large part of our church, many generous memorials have been used for hymnals, updated sound system, Kawai baby grand piano in 1987, digital piano added in 1991 as well as a speaker system. New padded pews were purchased in 1997 as well as refinishing the floor.
The Georgetown church as closed in 1995 with their membership transferred to the Cuba City church. In 2002, the Yuba Street home next to the church was purchased for $60,000 for expansion purposes. Sunday School, cradle roll and youth group enrollment has declined as Cuba City’s population has aged. Choir, Bible Study, United Methodist Women and United Methodist Men groups are an important part of our ministry. Administrative Board members and staff volunteer many hours. Our current location is undergoing assessment with plan renovations to become more handicap accessible with a covered ramp, main floor restroom and other plans.
As we celebrate 125 years in 2010, we thank members and friends who have given so much of their time, talents, and efforts. We are grateful for the beautiful and lasting memorials that have been given in memory of those who have gone before us. Radical hospitality abounds with our mission projects, strawberry festival, pasty supper and harvest auction. We seek to share fellowship together with our community.