By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer
As Elida celebrates its centennial this summer, preserving its history has become important to the town’s residents. To accomplish that, a landmark building there has been nominated for inclusion on the State Register of Cultural Properties.
Built in 1907, the old Elida Methodist Church, now serves as the home of the Elida Senior Citizens Center.
While hymns no longer echo from the rafters, the building is still a part of everyday life in Elida. A new Methodist Church, five blocks south of the post office was built in 1969, said Elida resident and church member Ronald Anthony.
With help from John Murphey, State and National Register coordinator, a committee of several Elida residents have worked to put a State Register application together. The application will be presented to the New Mexico Cultural Properties Review Committee on Friday in Santa Fe for approval, said Fred Anthony, application committee member.
The process for submitting the application began before the centennial planning for Elida began. The committee is hoping the church will be approved for the historic register and can be dedicated during the upcoming celebration at the end of June. It has also been the stepping-off point to try and register other buildings that are in Elida, Fred said.
“It’s a process that we have been considering for some time,” Fred said.
Being built alongside the highway posed some problems for the church that factored into the decision to build and move to another location. During the sermons, Anthony said, a truck would go by and overpower what the preacher was saying. During Bible school, the children would have to be monitored to ensure that they did not get into the highway.
“It was good to get it off the highway,” Ronald said.
According to the application submitted to the State Register of Cultural Properties, R.H. Morrow donated a half block of his homestead land for the building.
The Anthony family is one of many with strong ties to the building. Ronald and Fred’s grandfather, J.W. Anthony was the head carpenter on the construction of the church.
“It’s kinda been a very sentimental thing, the building has been (sentimental) to the Anthony family,” Ronald said. “It was a real center of our life.”
“It’s (the church) very dear to a lot of people,” said Fred. “There’s a lot of interesting stories there. A lot of people have experienced spiritual growth at the church.”
Besides the senior center, the building serves as a gathering place for social activities and funeral dinners.
“It’s just a good ole building and we’re just happy and proud of it,” said church member and Elida resident Ruth Moore, who is also a member of the application committee.
A long-standing member of the Methodist church, Moore also grew up attending services in the church building. The building has special meaning to her and she still enjoys the opportunity to visit the building during social gatherings, she said.
“I grew up going to that church. It’s a very special part of me,” Moore said.
At a glance
• The Elida Methodist Church was constructed in 1907. The building is painted a bright white and consists of a T plan with two intersecting gables . The church also has tall lancet windows that exhibit the modest influence of Gothic Revival style.
• Walls of the church are constructed of concrete, which came from the Elida Cement Improvement Company.
• The roof of the church consists of corrugated metal.
• The Elida Methodist Church was one of the earliest permanent houses of worship to be built in Roosevelt County.
• The church served as a center of worship and social activity for 61 years.
• The church was founded by 17 charter members, with services originally being held on the fourth Sunday of each month.
• The last sermon in the building was preached by pastor Andrew Husted and took place on Nov. 17, 1968.
• Today the church building is being utilized as the home of the Elida Senior Citizens Center. The building is rented to the group for the amount of $1 per year.
• Improvements to the Methodist Church building include: Making the building handicapped accessible, adding an acoustical ceiling, a modern kitchen and an enclosed porch.
Source: Application for Registration: New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties.