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Summerfield’s History

Summerfield United Methodist Church has a rich history that goes back more than a century. Founded in 1852, Summerfield remains the oldest Methodist congregation in Wisconsin.

Learn more about how we got here through the timeline below.


Summerfield’s Congregation is Formed

Summerfield’s congregation formed in 1852.

Summerfield Joins Abolitionist Sherman Booth

In 1854 members of the Summerfield congregation joined with the abolitionist Sherman Booth and broke into a Milwaukee jail to free escaped slave Joshua Glover.


Summerfield Church Stained Glass

The church retains the original stained glass medallions from 1856 used in the Biddle Street location windows. These are among the oldest surviving works of stained glass in the state.

Summerfield Congregation Moves

By 1857 the congregation had moved to Biddle Street (now Kilbourn Avenue) and Van Buren Street and was named Summerfield in honor of John Summerfield, an Irish Methodist preacher.

1865 – 1868

Summerfield ‘s Next Pastor

From 1865 to 1868, Samuel Fallows was pastor. He had served as a colonel and brevetted brigadier general during the Civil War. His wife, Lucy Bethia Huntington, helped to establish the Soldiers Aid Society and was a patron of Milwaukee’s Old Soldier Home.

Women’s Foreign Missionary Society

In 1869, the first Women’s Foreign Missionary Society in Milwaukee and Wisconsin, and the second in the United States, was organized at Summerfield. This later evolved into the United Methodist Women.

1884 – 1890

Milwaukee Protestant Home

Milwaukee Protestant Home, a home for the aged, was established at the church’s location in 1884 and Methodist Manor in 1890.

New Summerfield Church Constructed

The current church building was constructed in 1904 on the corner of Cass Street and Juneau Avenue for First Community Church. The Gothic style church, with its 73-foot-tall (22 m) bell tower, was built using sandstone and limestone.


Goodwill Industries Formed At Summerfield

On October 6, 1919, Goodwill Industries of Wisconsin was founded in the basement of Summerfield.

Summerfield Merges With First Community Church

Summerfield merged with First Community Church in 1929 and the combined congregation then occupied the church.


Summerfield Shares Worship Service With Fe Hispanic Ministry UMC

On January 19, 2014 the congregation of Fe Hispanic Ministry UMC began sharing worship space at Summerfield, bringing services in Spanish to the church.

Summerfield’s Legacy

Summerfield remains the oldest Methodist congregation in Wisconsin.