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Piecing together puzzle of historic Gainesville church

Piecing together puzzle of historic Gainesville church

Church Vitality

Editor’s Note: The following article and photograph are being presented with permission from the Gainesville Sun.

In 1942, a historic sanctuary at downtown’s First United Methodist Church underwent a dramatic transformation as it was converted into Fellowship Hall and the Christian Worker’s Chapel. Seven decades later, when Gainesville architect Jay Reeves was commissioned to restore the sanctuary to its original condition, no one in the congregation could remember what the sanctuary originally looked like. This led Reeves on a hunt for documentation to determine how the building looked more than a century ago.

In 1886, the cornerstone for the sanctuary was laid. The red brick sanctuary was named Kavanaugh Memorial Church to honor the late Bishop Hubbard Hinde Kavanaugh, whose district included Florida and other Southern states.

According to an 1884 biography by Albert Henry Redford, during his 30-year career as a bishop, Kavanaugh gave 15,000 preaching appointments to ministers and ordained between 800 and 900 deacons and between 600 and 700 elders. Kavanaugh was said to have died almost in the act of preaching in 1884, at age 82.

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