Wesley Chapel

A bronze plaque commemorating the first Methodist service held in Indianapolis occupies a favored spot inside the rotunda of the State Capitol building on N. Capitol Avenue. The plaque may be found on the left side of the north wall of the rotunda; GPS 39 46 07.31, -086 09 46.19.

The text of the plaque reads:

"The first formal religious service in Indianapolis was held on these grounds. 1819 – Resin Hammond a Methodist conducted the first religious service under a walnut tree. 1821 – First church organized in the Isaac Wilson log cabin by Reverend William Cravens."

The plaque further states that it was "Presented 1924 by members of the Meridian Street Methodist Episcopal Church – formerly Wesley Chapel. " It features a group of worshippers entering a log cabin set in a grove of trees. The design was created by Howard Perry, a student at the John Herron Art Institute, for which he was awarded a prize of $100.

This little band grew and in 1824 built a cabin of their own for worship on the south side of Maryland Street, halfway between Meridian and Illinois, which they named Wesley Chapel. This location was later occupied by the L.S. Ayres store where, in 1971, a commemorative plaque honoring the site of the first building was placed on the northeast corner of the store. However, when the store was razed, the plaque is said to have passed into the custody of the City of Indianapolis.

In 1829 the congregation erected the first of two brick structures on the southwest quadrant of Circle Street (now Monument Circle) in downtown Indianapolis.  Later (1842) Bishop Roberts divided this congregation to form two churches, one of which became Roberts Park and the other, Meridian Street.

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