In 1896 a group of people identified a need for a Sunday School in the southernmost part of Springfield.

That fall the Rev. S.W. Dugan, pastor of the Ridgely and Round Prairie Circuit of the Springfield (Ill.) District of the Illinois Conference of the Methodist Episcoal Church, started a Sunday School in the Horace Mann School at Pasfield and Laurel streets. That decision has given us today’s Laurel United Methodist Church.

That 1896 Sunday School was designated as a preaching place by the Methodist Episcopal Quarterly Conference and in 1898 was named the Springfield South Charge. Arthur S. Chapman, a student from Illinois Wesleyan University, was appointed to the charge. An average of 75 people attended weekly worship services.

When Horace Mann School became unavailable for the Sunday School, the Second Presbyterian Church offered the Springfield South Charge the use of a building at Allen and College streets.

The young church soon realized a need for its own building and in October, 1899, incorporated as Laurel Methodist Episcopal Church, so named because it was located in the Laurel addition to the City of Springfield. The trustees purchased a lot on Pine Street for $350, just one block south of South Grand Avenue. The building which was placed on the lot was dedicated in 1901 and cost $1,875.

By 1905, Laurel Methodist Episcopal Church had outgrown its building and decided that it needed to be more centrally located. The small church was sold as a residence and still stands with the stained glass window in front. The new church building at 301 South Grand Avenue, West, was dedicated on May 5, 1907.

Laurel Church continued to grow to the point that it again needed more space. The lots on the corner of South Grand Avenue, West and Walnut Street were bought and ground was broken on October 29, 1924. Dedication services were held December 24, 1925.

During the late 1950s, extensive renovations were completed to the interior and exterior. In 1968 Methodists and the Evangelical United Brethren were united into United Methodists, a new denomination.

Laurel continued to grow. In 1980 a wing was added to the original building to house offices and classrooms. The addition was consecrated on December 23, 1984.

Laurel’s centennial anniversary was celebrated in 1996 and we will celebrate the centennial of the original building at South Grand and Walnut in 2025.

Laurel United Methodist Church exterior with group of men circa 1920