The Boston Avenue United Methodist Church is a Christian community rich in history, vibrant in the present and enthusiastic about the future.
Tulsa was just a small trading post town in Indian Territory when the Rev. E. B. Chenoweth arrived with his wife and infant son in November, 1893, to organize the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Though the Civil War had officially reunited the Union and Confederate states some years before, the church was, at that time, still divided over the issue of slavery.
As soon as his family was settled, Chenoweth rounded up seven congregation members and began monthly meetings in the nearby Presbyterian mission. The following summer, they built a brush arbor with pews made of wooden planks stretched over railroad ties. Later that year a small frame building was completed, and the little congregation had its first real home!
In 1901 the congregation moved into a nicer brick building, but soon outgrew that as well. New property for a church site was purchased on the corner of Fifth and Boston in late 1906, and a large new building was erected with tall white columns. This would be the church's home for the next twenty years. The congregation was renamed Boston Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
By the mid-1920's the congregation had again outgrown its building. Building committee members traveled from coast to coast in search of the right design. Architects were hired, then dismissed when their suggestions were less than inspiring. Finally, in desperation, the wife of Building Committee Chair C. C. Cole asked Miss Adah Robinson, a University of Tulsa art instructor, for her help. The sketch Robinson produced a few days later was a real shock to committee members, but her idea gradually caught on. The design was done in a new art deco style rather than the then-popular Gothic architecture, and included a round sanctuary and a slender 15-story tower. With the 1920's oil boom at its peak, church members were optimistic enough about the future to embrace both the new look and the $1,500,000 commitment. Robinson's design was approved, and Rush, Endacott, & Rush architectural firm was hired. A young man named Bruce Goff , one of Robinson's students and an employee of the firm, did the drafting and another former student, Robert Garrison, created the sculptures. Robinson supervised the project, working closely with church members and construction workers through the building's completion.
Construction took over two years, and finally on June 9, 1929, church members moved into the twentieth-century art deco masterpiece that still houses the Boston Avenue congregation today.
With the Great Depression of the 1930's, church members struggled to continue making the payments on their building. They were able to hold on to it, however, and the church building was finally dedicated, debt-free, in 1946. The tower elevator and offices were completed in 1963, and two years later the Children's Building was added. At the time, it was the largest cantilevered building west of the Mississippi.
Land west, north, and northeast of the church was purchased and developed for parking in 1993, the same year the congregation celebrated its 100th anniversary. During that celebration, two 35-foot-tall mosaics were added in Great Hall, a gift of Mrs. W. K. Warren. Each weighs 3,000 pounds and includes more than a quarter million tiles. One depicts God as revealed through the Hebrew scriptures, the other through the Christian scriptures.
A columbarium was added in 2000 to provide a sacred space where church members’ cremains could be inurned at death. The columbarium has, indeed, become a sacred space, much like the little cemetery adjacent to country churches, where family members can come and remember those they love.
In May, 2002, the Jubilee Center, a 40,000-square-foot, multifunctional addition, was completed and opened. This new addition houses 14 classrooms, a computer lab, catering kitchen, office, youth lounge, game room, and the multipurpose Jubilee Hall for athletic events (basketball, volleyball, etc) and large group meetings, dinners and receptions.
The latest addition to our church campus is a 1-acre park located just north of the church. The land was purchased in January, 2004, and landscaping was completed that spring. The park is a great space for children and youth activities, family outings, and church group gatherings.
As we celebrate the 124th anniversary of our congregation and the 88th anniversary of our present church building, the Boston Avenue facility is currently valued at more than $50 million.