Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Methodist Church in Austin was built with innovative funding.

Now serving as a community center, the Methodist Church in Austin is another great example of this town’s rich history. Built in 1866, it’s one of Nevada’s oldest surviving Methodist churches, and Nevada’s first church built outside of the Comstock.

The brick edifice with Italianate bell tower was built during the pastorate of J. L. Trefren, who conceived an enterprising approach to construction financing. Trefren organized the New England & Nevada Silver Mining Company and sold stock based on the potential earnings of Austin’s silver claims. The church was built and a fine organ was purchased (possibly the first church organ in Nevada) before the scheme collapsed. Mechanical engineer Daniel P. Bell served as supervising architect for the building, which was apparently designed by a California architect, and Bell may have been responsible for the building’s innovative form. Lectures and entertainment were part of the church scene for benefit purposes. Emma Wixom attended Sunday school here. Later, as world-famous Emma Nevada, she brought her troupe to Austin and gave a benefit concert in this church.

Learn more about Austin’s history at