History (and Historic Chapel)
Community United Methodist Church was founded in 1867 - originally a Methodist Episcopal church. The CUMC Chapel building was originally built in 1872 at a cost of $3,650. A chimney was omitted because of the $500.00 additional cost. The architectural style is Victorian Gothic Revival. The belfry is unlike spires of other San Francisco peninsula churches built in the comparable period. It is an octagonal cupola with cutout braces in the four arch openings. Originally, the church may have faced west. The San Mateo Gazette of April 20, 1872 reported "the church will stand about 20 ft. back from Johnston Street which it fronts, the side facing Miramontes Street on the south."
After the 1906 earthquake, the May 10, 1906 Redwood City Democrat reported that "the Methodist Church was thrown from its foundation and badly wrecked." More than a year after the earthquake, on June 20, 1907, that paper printed an update story, reporting that "The Methodist Church in Half Moon Bay has been rebuilt almost completely at a cost of $525.00, including a new bell. The interior has also been decorated and so thoroughly renovated has it been that it would hardly be recognized."
If the 1872 report was accurate, when the building was placed back on its foundation in 1906, it must have been turned 90 degrees to face south on Miramontes Street.
One enters the chapel by two aisles. When the church was built, men and women were not allowed to sit together. The original divided pews are still in use. During one recent renovation, the "bundling board" was removed from the divided pew. There was such a hue and cry from the congregation, that the boards were replaced. For weddings, the bride enters through the north door or "women's side" of the church. After being joined with her husband, they depart up the south aisle or "men's side" signifying she is now also part of the groom's family.
The present crystal chandeliers, once oil burners, have been electrified. Many of the furnishings in the sanctuary are original pieces. The 1907 bell is still in the cupola. For many years it was badly rusted and unable to be rung, but in 1996 it was repaired and has been heard to ring on several recent Sunday mornings.
The Ocean Shore Rail Road built a one-story, gabled-roofed freight depot in Half Moon Bay about 1908. In 1930 the now Methodist church Trustees acquired the then abandoned depot and appended it to the north end of the church to serve as a social hall. This building was later donated to the Half Moon Bay Historical Society, and moved when the new sanctuary was built in 2002.
In 1955 a series of classrooms were built across the north edge of the property, to the east of the sanctuary.
The stained-glass windows were added to the historic chapel starting in 1979. Robert Fitzpatrick, a member of our congregation, designed and executed all of the windows. This is additionally extraordinary in that Bob had never attempted any stained glass projects until he retired and took a class at the local High School. Each window is based on a hymn chosen by those who commissioned the window. The first window to be installed is at the southeast corner of the church and the last one in the half circle above the front doors.
In 1991, a Children's Wing was added to the east edge of the property, a joint project done in cooperation with the Family Council of Half Moon Bay. The Half Moon Bay Children's Center utilizes these buildings during the week to provide preschool and child care for Coastside families. In 1996, the church purchased the property at 529 Johnston St., which was used for Youth Ministry, a new nursery and adult meeting space.
In 2000, the church was turned to face west once again in preparation for construction of a new church and social hall.
In 2002, CUMC completed a new sanctuary and educational wing/social hall to accommodate a growing congregation.
The Community United Methodist Chapel is the oldest operating church in San Mateo County. There are older church buildings but they are no longer used as churches.
We hope you enjoy your visit to the San Mateo County coast, Half Moon Bay and the Community United Methodist Church.