History of Plymouth Congregational Church

A comprehensive brochure of the Plymouth Church history was compiled in 2002 by Linda Balthaser and is available in the church office.

Plymouth Congregational vintage church photoOn September 3, 1871, a new church was dedicated (cost $4,700). This building was located at the northwest corner of Washington and Fulton Streets. The German Methodist Church, where the Plymouth members had held their services since September 1870, was located on the northeast corner of Washington and Fulton Streets. The church was illuminated with oil lamps and heated with a wood-burning furnace. Later, gas was used for illumination purposes.

The original building was sold to Redeemer Lutheran Church in 1892. In 1903, the Lutherans moved it to the rear of the lot facing Fulton Street; and the Washington Apartments were constructed on the original site. In 1923, the building was removed to make room for construction of the Fulton Apartments.

The young organization had barely entered upon its existence when a period of financial depression occurred. In common with other religious organizations, the church entered into almost every activity which would develop Christian patience and also bring in some money. There were dinners given at the County Fair Ground (now Swinney Park). There were home socials, sewing societies, church dinners, Japanese weddings, strawberry festivals, and excursions to Chicago or Rome City. The boys of the church even put in a garden behind the church building and sold the produce from the garden to do their share in contributing to the church funds. There were eight pastors between 1870 and 1910.

Plymouth Congregational vintage church photoIn 1891 the congregation purchased a lot for $2,000 at the corner of Jefferson and Harrison Streets, where a new Congregational Church was built in 1893 and dedicated on November 6 of that year. Since the original church building had been sold to Redeemer Lutheran in 1892, the congregation was allowed to use the old Jewish Synagogue at Wayne and Harrison until the new church was completed.

This church was modernized to use either gas or electricity for illumination purposes and thoroughly equipped with furnaces. Considered more than ample in 1893, the building became completely inadequate in fewer than 25 years and was sold in 1924 after 31 years of occupancy. It was razed, and the site is now occupied by the Indiana Hotel.

The minutes of the Clerk mention that in February 1894, a telephone was ordered for the pastor's study at a cost of $1 per month. The 25th anniversary was celebrated in 1895.

The current church, at the corner of Berry and Fairfield, is the fourth building for the congregation. This building was completed in 1924. The total cost was $285,000. Dr. Folsom built the membership to 1,185 with Sunday School enrollment of 630 in 1923. Dr. Folsom was stricken in 1933 while working on his farm. At the time of his death, there were 1,600 members.

Plymouth Congregational vintage church photoThe church, by reincorporation, became Plymouth Congregational Church of Fort Wayne on October 16, 1935.

The celebration of the 75th anniversary was a high point in the church activities during 1945. Burning the fully paid $90,000 mortgage for the 1924 building was included in the 75th anniversary celebration.

The annual Festival of Religious Art began in 1952 with exhibits of painting, sculpture, tapestries, and architecture; instrumental music and solos with organ accompaniment; dance; drama; and choral performance. It is a strong tradition that is still carried on today.

The church celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1970.