First United Methodist Church of Webster Groves grew out an effort in 1893 by two residents in the Tuxedo Park neighborhood. They wanted to start a Sunday School. It was a year before Webster Groves was incorporated and four years before Tuxedo Park became a part of the city.
The efforts of the women, Mrs. Edward Joy and Mrs. F. Benton Miller, eventually led to the formation of two churches – our own and Webster Groves Christian Church.
The Sunday School first met in homes, starting on Oct. 22, 1893. Later members met in a barn on Fairview Avenue west of Cornelia. The first permanent building was on the north side of Atalanta Avenue west of Margaret Street. Ministers were invited to come out from St. Louis to preach at the gatherings, and on Jan. 3, 1895, the Tuxedo Park Methodist Episcopal Church was organized. The Disciples of Christ group split off a few months later.
That building, now a private home, also proved inadequate by 1909. The church sold it and bought land at the corner of Bompart and Fairview Avenues. By March 1910, a basement building was in place at the new site, and members began meeting there, due in part to donations from The Rev. Dr. Thomas Hagerty, a St. Louis preacher who donated time and money to nurture the growing church. The church was renamed Hagerty Memorial Methodist Church in his honor.
Efforts to raise money for the present church building began in 1913, and construction began in autumn 1915. The church dedicated the new building on Palm Sunday, April 16, 1916. The original sanctuary, set on an angle, had curving rows of pews from front to back and two aisles.
In 1930, the church was continuing to grow, and the name was changed to First Methodist Episcopal Church of Webster Groves. “Episcopal” was dropped from the name in 1939, and in 1968, “United” was added after the Methodist Church merged with the Evangelical United Brethren.
By 1950, the church began planning the three-story education building that is now on the east side of the church. That building was dedicated June 5, 1955. The sanctuary was remodeled to its current configuration in 1961.
At present, the congregation is getting ready to build again, with plans to add an elevator and new entrance on the northeast side of the building. The elevator will improve access to all levels of the church for members who have difficulty with stairs.
Throughout its history, the church has had ups and downs, and its membership has changed as Webster Groves was built up and as suburban development moved west. However, a strong core of families, both old and young, has long been the strength of this loving congregation. We invite you to become a part of this church family.