First United Methodist Church
Methodism in North Adams can be traced back to 1823, when there were only 2,000 citizens in the village of Adams, (which included present-day North Adams). Laymen Ebenezer Alden and Joseph Hayden held a meeting of prayer in Alden’s house. This meeting led to the conversion of 64 people, and in 1824, a new Methodist church was built on Center Street, after a $30 purchase of the lot. Then in 1842, property was bought on Church Street for a new Methodist church to be built, and the Center Street church was sold to the Universalist Church for $450. The building of the new church was completed, at a cost of $4,000, and this would be the permanent spot where the church would last. Over time, the church saw drastic changes. In 1872, the church was demolished in order for a larger church to be built.
On December 30, 1873, the new church was dedicated by Bishop E.S. James. With a seating capacity of 1,300 people, it was far bigger than the previous church. The congregation size was also large during this time, as 650 people were members, and Sunday School hosted 400. There were not many changes seen within the church at the turn of the century, but renovations occurred, costing $4,000 in 1906.
On February 14, 1927, tragedy struck; the First United Methodist Church was completely destroyed in a fire. Due to insurance only covering $35,500 of the renovation costs, there was a great need for donations. In response to this need, $150,968 was raised in donations and pledges, allowing ground to be broken for a new church on November 16, 1927.
In 1948, the “One Hundred and Twenty-Fifth Anniversary” of the church was celebrated, and the mortgage was reduced to $22,000, which was significantly lower than the original mortgage as a result of the fire and new building costs. This was one of the many milestones that the church and Methodism as a whole in North Adams would see. In 1973, the “150th Anniversary of Methodism in North Adams” was celebrated, and Bishop Edward G. Carroll provided a celebratory sermon. Then, in 1985, Bishop George W. Bashore provided a sermon during worship service on October 27, as a result of the “150th Anniversary of Sunday School” celebration.
In 2003, the church reached its 100 years of missionary work milestone. The most significant gift of missionary work by the church occurred in 1923, when the church donated $10,000 to Suwon, Korea to build a primary school for children. In 2003, the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church approved the First United Methodist Church in North Adams as a historic congregation. Due to the merger of the First United Methodist Churches in North Adams and Williamstown on October 10, 2010, the church closed down. Purchased by artist and developer Eric Rudd, it is the current home of the Berkshire Art Museum. This Museum displays contemporary art and exhibitions, and the integrity of the building is still upheld.