In a small city with a wealth of beautiful old churches, the 1892 First United Methodist Church of Ypsilanti stands out. The light-filled sanctuary is lovely, with graceful wood pews, a prominent balcony encircling the space, and a backdrop of stunning stained glass windows.
The Chicago firm of George Misch and Sons designed the windows. The commission specified that the designs must not include any figures. The only recognizable images are a cross and crown design on the main north window, an anchor on the transept window to the south, and a lily design that is repeated throughout the building. The abundance of stained glass, allowing so much light to flood the sanctuary, was unique in Washtenaw County at the time the church opened in 1892.
In 2002 church trustees decided to repaint the sanctuary. The project proceeded under the guidance of church member and organist Ron Miller, who formulated a plan to replicate a version of the original paint scheme. The base color for the 2002 design was lightened to reflect current trends, but the accessory palate was based on the way the church was originally lit. Larry Burdick Painting Company of Ypsilanti did the base painting and Faux Play of Midland was hired to do the decorative painting. The original lighting was restored and new fixtures were installed to compliment the room.
Today the church interior looks almost the same as it did when the first worshipers entered more than 100 years ago. The sanctuary has come back to life, with soaring arches, pillars topped with gold, and a major utilization of color to highlight an exceptional space.
If you have never been inside the Methodist Church, or if you haven’t seen it since the sensitive 2002 restoration, be sure to stop by to gaze in delight at this local architectural and stained glass treasure.