St. Paul UM Church (South Bend)

Location

1001 West Colfax Avenue
South Bend, Indiana

Category

U.M.- United Methodist

Description

St. Paul's UM Church, the "Studebaker Church," is located at W. Colfax and LaPorte Avenues. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975.

This congregation was founded in 1883 and worshipped in a church donated by Mr. and Mrs. Clement Studebaker. Ann Studebaker asked that it be called Milburn Chapel in honor of her father, George Milburn, a prosperous wagon-maker of the time (as was Clement Studebaker).

The congregation outgrew the chapel, and the Studebakers – devout worshippers there – offered to erect a new and larger church. As this building was under construction in 1901-1902, the Studebakers were traveling in Europe. In Germany, he came upon a fascinating stained glass representation of St. Paul preaching on Mars Hill in Athens. He wired the congregation, volunteering to purchase the window (see the insert) for the new building if the people would name the church St. Paul's. They readily agreed.

With its distinguished Indiana blue limestone exterior and carillon tower, St. Paul’s "English Gothic" building features many elegant stained glass windows, so many in fact that even the numerous classrooms have elaborate windows, all created and installed by the Mayer glass company of Munich, Germany.

The imported marble baptismal font contains images of Biblical scenes and figures of the early Church. Expert studies trace the font's workmanship to a group of 12th and 13th century Roman marble workers. Made in the Byzantine style predating the Renaissance, the material for the font is believed to have been quarried from the ruins of ancient Rome, thus making it quite possibly the oldest font still in use in the United States.

The massive pulpit is a replica of John Wesley's pulpit in City Road Chapel in London. When the heavy wall separating the sanctuary and the "Great Hall" is raised, as many as 1200 people can be seated and clearly see and hear a speaker in this pulpit.

The building, one of the most ornate and beautiful in the Indiana Conference, is being restored to its full glory as rapidly as funds can be obtained.

Learn about Epworth Hospital in South Bend related to St. Paul's UMC.

GPS: 41 40 39.77, -86 15 51.26

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