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The building circa 1928

Kenwood History

Kenwood United Methodist Church began in 1889, when a few young people gathered in a building on North Avenue near Murray Avenue and organized a Sunday School. It was called the Mitchell Heights Mission.  The leader of the group was George H. Chamberlain. The first pastor, the Rev. William Wesley Woodside, was appointed in 1891.

The congregation worshipped in several buildings in the neighborhood. In 1919, property was purchased on East Kenwood Boulevard. Construction for the foundation began in 1923, but the sanctuary was not begun until 1928. At that time the church was known as “Kenwood Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church.”

One of the outstanding features of the building is the the Austin organ donated in 1928 by Mrs. C. W. Wright in honor of her father, A. O. Smith. The organ has been updated several times. In 2002, the John-Paul Buzard Pipe Organ Builders undertook a complete rebuilding. Another outstanding feature of the building is the the stained glass window, the "The Welcoming Christ," which is on the north wall of the Sanctuary.

The building has been hosted numerous-groups and organizations. St. Raphael and All Angels Liberal Catholic Congregation has worshiped for many years in the chapel.

SInce the 1970s Kenwood has supported various community groups by offering rental space in the building The Sunday-School space has served a succession of pre-school, day-care and Charter-School programs. Currently the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee rents space in the building for a variety of classes The gymnasium has been used by the Turners, an organization which teaches gymnastics, since 1981.

Over the years, the Kenwood congregation has counted a number of community leaders among its members. Dr. Charles C. Gates (1882-1985) was a chemistry professor at UWM's predecessor institution and its oldest living graduate when he died in 1985. Dr. Ella M. Hanawalt (1890-1995) was a missionary to China and Professor of Education and Psychology at Milwaukee Downer College. Max Clowers (1908-1997) was Executive Director of the North Central Area Council of the YMCA. Harvey Stower, Kenwood's Young Adult Minister from 1977-1981 went on to serve in the Wisconsin Assembly, was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, and is currently the mayor of Amery, Wisconsin.

Lois Olsen, Church Historian


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