Originally constructed in 1859 with exterior and interior additions in 1912, Wheatland United Methodist Church is the oldest Methodist church west of the Trinity River. The church was designated as a Recorded Texas Landmark in 1965. The church structure is primarily post and beam wood framing, spanned with a combination of dimensional joists and site-built trusses, erected over a foundation which combines piers of stacked rubble masonry with bois d’arc stumps resting directly on soil. At the start of rehabilitation, the sanctuary ceiling, the original rear wall and the north and south exterior walls exhibited significant deflection and structural distress (8” sag in the sanctuary ceiling and 4” horizontal displacement in the south wall,) and the church was not being used because of safety concerns.
The single original volume, approximately 50’ x 32’ in size, accommodates both chancel and pews. Additions in 1912 included two entrances (one with a bell tower) flanking additional seating at the rear of the sanctuary, a two-story choir/office/classroom extension behind the chancel, and the balcony and stair within the sanctuary. The seating expansion is connected to the main seating area by a large rectangular opening through the original west exterior wall. Stained glass windows throughout the church were added in 1912.
Protecting the historic windows was the first step in the rehabilitation process. After leveling the building perimeter beams, work proceeded with exposure of the wall framing on the south wall and original west wall so that new engineered wood members and new steel columns could be introduced. Non-original wall and ceiling panels and earlier but also non-original wall and ceiling papers were removed. The entire building envelope was found sheathed on the interior with tongue-and-groove siding. This siding was painted on the original volume and left natural on the additions, providing useful information about the sequence of construction. Once exposed and braced, the south wall was incrementally brought back into plumb and new framing introduced, and sagging long-span ceiling joists were replaced by new laminated veneer joists.
New wall panels made to match the earlier profile were installed, sanctuary coffer beams reconstructed and new ceilings were installed throughout, including a stretched-fabric system for acoustical control in the sanctuary. Three windows in the choir, previously concealed from view from the interior, were exposed in the renovation. Mismatched ceiling fans and light fixtures throughout were replaced with new, more efficient fixtures to match the original appearance.
Much love and appreciation for the dedicated owners and craftsman that understood the historical and spiritual significance of this historic sanctuary as they restored it for many future generations to enjoy:
Architect: GFF Architects
Structural Engineer: RLG Consulting Engineers, Inc.
General Contractor: Nedderman & Associates Inc.
Please donate to our Historic Sanctuary Restoration