Paul Baker Touart
Old Friendship United Methodist Church
Meadow Bridge & West Post Office Roads, West, Worcester County
Old Friendship United Methodist Church is a one-story, gable-front, frame building erected in 1866. The building rests on a brick foundation and is sheathed in plain weatherboard siding; the corners are trimmed with paneled pilasters, and the eaves are bracketed. The south gable facade features a central entrance with double doors, surmounted by a transom and a small pedimented hood supported on consoles. Flanking the entrance on either side are large rectangular colored-glass windows with lancet arches inset in the upper sash; identical windows mark the three bays of each side elevation. The gable is treated as a pediment, with brackets following the raking cornice and a lancet-arched, louvered opening centered in the tympanum. The interior remains substantially intact, retaining its original decorative detailing, including symmetrically molded architrave trim with corner blocks, and original furniture, including pews and pulpit. The building is sited within a small churchyard containing several hundred 19th and 20th century grave markers, which is partially enclosed by a Victorian-period iron fence. Also on the property is a one-story frame gable-front meeting hall of 20th century date, which does not contribute to the significance of the resource.
Old Friendship United Methodist Church is significant as a well-preserved example of a type of religious building erected to serve Methodist congregations in rural Worcester County, Maryland in the second half of the 19th century. Most other examples of this type in the county have been more extensively altered, moved, or have lost integrity through abandonment and deterioration. Typical of rural churches in the lower Eastern Shore region in the mid to late 19th century, the building is eclectic in its architectural character, combining a conservative gable-front temple form associated with the Greek Revival with exterior decorative detailing derived from picturesque Italianate influence. The colored-glass memorial windows, with lancet arches in the upper sash, were added in the early 20th century, reflecting a trend toward improvement of rural churches in Worcester County during the period 1890-c.1920, when relative prosperity in the local agricultural economy made possible the renovation or replacement of earlier church buildings. The building retains a high degree of integrity, with the majority of its exterior and interior architectural fabric and decorative detailing intact, including original pews and chancel furniture. A small churchyard, partially enclosed with a Victorian-period iron fence, provides the historic setting. The period of significance is defined as extending from 1866, the date of construction of the building, to c. 1920, by which date it had substantially achieved its present form.