By Patricia Lilliston
Whether traveling on foot, stroller or bicycle, a trek around the perimeter of Mountain View measures a mile and a half and clocks 30 minutes on a Fitbit. Along the path, one passes the existing location of the first community building constructed in the area, the Berkeley Methodist Church, located at the corner of 43rd Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard.
Initially the site of a gospel tent, four lots were purchased for $500 on what was formerly identified as Oak Street with the intent to construct a building for a growing congregation.
When the deed of the property was recorded on March 2,1891, and the roof was raised, services were held with only floor planks and carpeted nail kegs functioning as the church pews.
In 1892, at a cost of $4,000, the Berkeley Methodist Church construction was complete. Renovations continued when a parsonage was erected at a cost of $1,600 in 1893. In time, sidewalks surrounding the entire property were laid.
Lightning struck the towering steeple in 1916. Before the fire department arrived, the rooftop and church steeple were destroyed. The original steeple was never replaced as the insurance settlement was used for other church expenditures.
The 1930s prompted minimal updates. The annex was extended, windows repaired, and a medallion was set in front of the church.
Then during the 1940s, the furnace was replaced; hardwood floors were refurbished; walls were re-papered and painted; linoleum was laid in the church auditorium.
Unfortunately, during this decade, a hailstorm caused extensive damage to the building. Although funds were acquired to recondition the property, the scarcity of the workforce during World War II made the likelihood of repairs unrealistic.
The next several decades presented the opportunity to add space for an educational unit and purchase a new parsonage. Asphalt was poured on the north curbside. Minor remodeling continued with the addition of tile, carpeting, and wiring for an interior chime sound system and exterior floodlights.
For many years, the main church entrance faced Sheridan Boulevard, but when the street was widened and the traffic noise increased, the pulpit and pews were rearranged, and the church entrance was repositioned to 43rd Avenue.
During the formative years of the Mountain View community, many town meetings were held at the church, as it was the largest building in the neighborhood. With a history of over 125 years, the Berkeley Methodist Church remains a Mountain View architectural cornerstone.
The quarterly Coffee & Conversation with the Mayor is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 29, from 1 to 3 p.m., at the Town Hall, 4176 Benton St. The forum provides the opportunity to meet neighbors, learn about local happenings and share your ideas for the community with Mayor Levy.
Mountain View is partnering with Inner City Health Center to provide 20 adult flu shots on Saturday, Oct. 6, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., at the Town Hall, 4176 Benton St. Flu shots are free of charge.
A budget hearing for the 2019 Proposed Town Budget will be presented on Monday, Oct. 8, during the regular monthly town council meeting, 6:30 p.m., at the Town Hall, 4176 Benton St.
September, the ninth month of the year, the third of four months to hold 30 days, and the seasonal equivalent of March in the Southern Hemisphere, is also distinguished with two literary calendar markers.
September is deemed Library Card Sign-up Month. Libraries nationwide remind us that signing up for a library card is essential for academic achievement and lifelong learning.
Additionally, Banned Book Week is posted during the week of Sept. 23 through 29. The week is intended to celebrate the freedom to read and for readers to speak out against censorship.
Argentine author and editor Alberto Manguel maintains, “Readers, censors know, are defined by the books they read.”
This September, how will you define your literary self?