Our First Church
Most of us know that Mrs. Mead Clark donated the land upon which the Montgomery facility is built. Did you know that the first Methodist church in Santa Rosa was also built on land donated for a small fee to make the sale legal? For that story, we’ll go back to the very origins of Methodism in Santa Rosa.
Due to differing philosophies concerning slavery, the Methodist church was split into two main factions during the 1850’s - the Methodist Episcopal Church which was against slavery and the Methodist Episcopal Church (South) which was pro-slavery.
The Southern Methodists arrived here first. The Reverend Solomon Smith of the Methodist Episcopal Church (South) visited the Santa Rosa valley in 1851 or 1852. At first he was not connected to any conference, but none the less was an active preacher. In 1853 he was officially appointed to the Bodega Bay Circuit. Santa Rosa, a very small community at that time, was a preaching point on that circuit, and the first services were held in the Baptist church in Franklin before the town of Santa Rosa was founded. The Methodist Episcopal Church (South) continued to meet in Baptist churches until 1868, when a church was erected at the corner of Fifth and B Streets.
It appears that the Methodist Episcopal Church began as part of the old Russian River Circuit. Santa Rosa was laid out in 1853, and our first records indicate that the Reverend A. L. S. Bateman was appointed to that circuit in 1854. Bateman conducted services first in the courthouse, and then in the home of appropriately named Judge Churchman. The first Methodist Episcopal Church building was erected in 1861, at the corner of Third and D Streets. The property was donatedin October, 1858, from town fathers Berthold "Barney" Hoen and Feodor "Ted" Hahman, who donated a number of lots to the Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians. They felt strongly that to be a successful town, Santa Rosa needed to have themajorchurchesrepresented. Four lots were receivedby the Methodists for $20 apiece. Each lot had 40 feet of frontage, two facing Second Street and two facing Third Street. In December 1858, two more lots facing Third Street were purchased. In 1861, the two lots on Second Street were sold, and the money was used to help build the church at the corner of 3rd and D Streets. It is the church pictured above at the far left of the masthead.
Today, most of us know Hahman and Hoen only as two streets, with Hahman Drive running parallel to Farmers Lane on the East side of Montgomery Village and Hoen Avenue running from Farmers Lane to the boundary of Annadel State Park.
Although they were not Methodists themselves, Ted Hahman and Barney Hoen featured strongly in the start of Methodism in Santa Rosa.