Tobacco and Trolleys: Industry and Transportation
Antebellum Architecture
Richmond's African American Heritage
The Continuing legacy of Historic Preservation
Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary
Centenary United Methodist Church

Centenary United Methodist

Centenary United Methodist Church
City of Richmond
Department of Community Development


Centenary United Methodist Church is one of downtown Richmond’s familiar landmarks, and among the best examples of Gothic Revival style architecture in the city. The church has a diverse history that begins with its “mother church” in Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom in 1799. Centenary is an offshoot of this first church. Methodists from around the state raised money to construct a new church in honor of the Methodist Centennial in 1839. The congregation dedicated the new Centenary United Methodist Church in June 1843. Money earned from the rental of pews helped pay for the building’s construction.

Centenary United contributed to the changing of the street name of its new location from G to Grace Street in honor of the number of churches located on the street. The first floor of the church, now occupied by the Fellowship Hall, served as an emergency hospital during the Civil War-a temporary use shared by many civic and religious buildings around the city.

Architects John and Samuel Freeman designed Centenary as a simple rectangular brick building. The church received a major renovation and addition in the 1870’s. Prominent Richmond architect Albert L. West did the design work for the remodeling creating a new façade and adding a distinctive tower in the Gothic Revival style. The Ladies Aid Society and the Circle of Industry purchased the church’s first pipe organ in 1877. The church added carved wood pews in 1882 and acquired a marble baptismal font from Tiffany and Son all the way from London in the 1890s. A brick addition to provide space for the organ and choir extended the nave in 1896. The choir is located over the church’s front door on Grace Street. The congregation added a dozen chime bells to the church’s tower in 1882, with the largest weighing 4,000 pounds. The bells rang for the first time on Easter Sunday, 1882, and they are still played daily. Another noted architect, Charles M. Robinson, designed the new parish house addition to the west of the chapel in 1929.

Throughout the 20th century, Centenary United remained a center of faith in downtown Richmond while all the other Methodist congregations relocated to the suburbs. Today, it is still a place of worship.

Plan your visit
Centenary United Methodist Church is located at 411 East Grace St.  The church continues to be an active place of worship and is open to the public.  For information, call 804-648-8319 or visit the Centenary United Methodist Church website.
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