Erwin First United Methodist Church, 920 Euclid Ave.
- Built: 1914, 1959
- Architect: Unknown
Erwin First Methodist Church got its start in 1888 in a house belonging to Alfred Gough at the corner of Hawthorne and Bassett Streets, where 35 people met to organize a Sunday School. Two years later, the small congregation appointed the Rev. James E. Erwin its first pastor. Rev. Erwin (1812-1894) was converted to Methodism at age 13, began preaching at 16, and became a Methodist Episcopal circuit rider at age 20. The congregation gained possession of its property in 1892, at which time a modest church building may have been erected. In 1897 the congregation sold this lot to the city as the location for the new Bassett School, and moved (and possibly expanded) its building to the corner of Westcott St. and Phelps (now Hrvard) Pl.
The congregation relocated again down the street to its current location at the corner of Euclid and Westcott, which was dedicated on February 8, 1914 . The area was still transitioning from a rural to an urban neighborhood. The Westminster tract was filling in to the southwest and the Westcott Tract was just being developed to the southeast. Architect Justus Moak Scrafford (who lived nearby on Lancaster Avenue) designed and built a striking grey brick structure that combined Arts & Crafts and Mission style architecture, and whose tower complemented the tower of Engine House 10 across Westcott Street.
In the late 1950s the congregation built a new $375,000 addition with sanctuary in a Colonial Revival style which mostly effaced the older structure, though one part of its curving facade can be seen facing west, just beyond the Colonial style addition. A new cornerstone was laid in October 1959.
According to the church website “In 1997, Erwin Methodist Church merged with The First Methodist Church. This merger resulted in a division of services (one traditional, one contemporary) that lasted until 2004. In 2005, the services were unified, and this “blended” worship style continues today at Erwin First, which now offers Native American worship services and is home to Hope Korean UMC.”
“1,000 Attend Cornerstone Rites of Two Churches,” Post-Standard (Oct 5, 1959)
“Church Property Sold,” Syracuse Herald (September 19, 1897)
“Churches,” Syracuse Herald (February 7, 1914) [announces church dedication]
“Erwin’s Birthday,” Syracuse Herald (April 30, 1899)
“From Mission to Church,” Syracuse Evening Herald (November 15, 1892)
Gruber, Samuel D. “Syracuse Architect: Justus Moak Scrafford (1878-1947),” My Central New York (May 13. 2014)