Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Past is Present in Coloma #2: Emmanuel Church, aka M. E. (Methodist Episopal) Church

Good morning. Tina again. I am running late. Computer problems again. I was trying to get one photo from my old computer to my new laptop to use on this post and I just wasted a whole hour. So I will just go ahead without.

My post today is on a lovely little church in Coloma, California which was completed in 1856. It was built by the Methodist and the Episcopal Churches, so it has been called the M. E. Church (for Methodist/Episcopal), Episcopal Church, and also the Emmanuel (or Emanuel) Church. Reverend Charles Caleb Peirce, a popular leader based in Placerville, was one of the first Episcopal ministers. In 1921 the Methodists improved the property and held services there, with the ministers visiting from the Federated Church in Placerville.
This is a photo which was published in the Mountain Democrat in Placerville. The redwood tree which stands to the right of the door is a replacement for an older tree which was there into the 1990s and finally succumbed to age.

This photo was also in the Mountain Democrat. The church stands in the upper left corner area.

This is an old photograph which I found on eBay. You can see that the church was surrounded by orchards, some of these trees still exist. You can also see the tall redwood beside the door.

I obtained this photo from Carol Mathis, who was the daughter of George Mathis. Both Carol and George have now passed away. George used this photo as a reference for a drawing which I show below.

This drawing was reprinted in a book entitled "El Dorado Sketches" published by the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce in 1972, copyrighted by George Mathis (illustrator) and Halmar F. Moser (author). This is what the book has to say about the Emmanuel Church:

"In Coloma, too, as the first wave of gold fever was replaced by a somewhat more sober working of the golden gravels, the residents desired a special building devoted to religious services. Members of the Episcopal and Methodist faiths banded together in 1856 to build the Emmanuel Church, a tribute to what has been called "Carpenter's Gothic", with unique details of wood construction. It was here that final services for James Marshall were held on a hot August day, before his body was carried by straining pall bearers to his grave site, half a mile up the hill."

This is a depiction of the church (in the center) by Carol Mathis. It is included in her drawing which I believe is entitled "Coloma Dream".

Since one of my main history collections is old postcards, I have some of this church. Above and below are Frashers postcards of the church. They both state: "Emanuel Church --- Coloma, California. Founded on January 4, 1854 by Right Rev. Wm. J. Kipp, D. D., Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California. The first Protestant Church in the Mines.

Below is a blue-tinted photo on a very old postcard which I found in my collecting travels. As you can see, most photographers had a hard time avoiding the trees which surrounded the church.

The redwood by the door was very imposing. One day the new tree will grow just as tall.

Another of my real photo postcards above. This one shows the steeple and the windows quite clearly.

This photo was included in a brochure on El Dorado County historical sites.

This is a plate which I found on eBay. I have several of this series which show churches in El Dorado County. On the back of the plate it states: "Coloma, California Church History (1849-1964) Methodist Superintendent of Missions, Rev. Roberts, established the first church in Coloma (1849) when Marshall discovered gold at Sutter's Mill on the American River. Rev. Anthony served as first minister. Fire destroyed original church so Methodists worshipped in the IOOF Hall. Episcopalian Bishop Kipp organized the Emmanuel Church (1854) and constructed the present sanctuary (1856) on the original site. Later (1870) it became a Methodist-Episcopal Church effort, then Methodist, and finally after years of inactivity the Historic Mother Lode Church under Albert Nobell's ministry became established in this historic building (1957) and is growing rapidly.
This is a plate which is imprinted with the Thomas Kinkade painting "Blossom Hill Church". On the back it says "Wouldn't it be a joy to be wed in this quaint church in Thomashire, surrounded by the heavenly scent of garden flowers?" One source I saw said Thomas Kinkade was wed here, but I am not sure if that is the case. One thing is sure, if he was, they were not surrounded by all those flowers in real life, and the church is not on a hill. Artistic license at work!

My husband and I were married in this church over 30 years ago. It was a double wedding with my sister Lori and her husband, and the size was just perfect. The inside has a little balcony above the front door where the brides can ready themselves for the march down the isle. It was simply but beautifully decorated with ribbons and golden mums by a friend. It sprinkled lightly during the ceremony. It was a perfect place to wed. I have several friends who have also been married there. Since it is in the State Park system, it was just a matter of paying a deposit of $25, which was returned. The cost may have gone up over the years, but it is definitely an affordable venue for a ceremony if any of you are planning a not-too-large wedding.

This is a copy of a tiny part of a map of Coloma drawn by George Mathis. He caught the essence in just a few lovely strokes.

Another shot of the church from an old map.

A great sketch from another old map I own. I neglected to write the artists name down. I will try to find it and add it later. I definitely believe in crediting the talented artists who depict our lovely historical structures in the Gold Country!

I am ending with a watercolor by one of my favorite artists, Jac Turner. He painted this after the old tree by the door was cut down and before the new one was planted. A bride and groom joyously raise their arms in greeting as they start their new life together.

Come to Coloma and pay a visit to this little church. You will enjoy the experience.


yosemite faith said...

since i was raised in the methodist church (my dad taught sunday school for 28 consecutive years) - that church feels very familiar to me. what a great job you did tina - cannot believe how much information you have accumulated. it is so cool that you were married there!

Heidi Ann said...

I'm fairly certain I have not been there since your wedding! Surely, another visit is in order. I loved seeing all of the different photos and depictions. Thank you for another lovely post.

Debbie V. said...

Very nice collection of photos, drawings and memorabilia. You are blessed to have such a historical place still standing.

Camille said...

I am currently planning my wedding for august 20 at this church. I was so delighted to read all the information you have collected. Thank you for sharing this.

Nicolle Hobbs said...

Hi! My great grand mother was also married in this church and she was a docent at the park for many many years. She said she was a docent when Thomas Kinkade was married here. Just thought I would share!

Jonathan Burgess said...

California Archives show the Church was purchased by a Mr.George Ingham for unpaid Taxes in March of 1879 at which time it was referred to "African Church" per the deed documents. Is there any information on what happened from 1879 to 1921 when it was noted that the ME took and restored it until 1963 when it was given to the State.

Thanks for your help Just doing a little family history.

Jonathan Burgess