Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Royalton United Methodist Church will host its 195th anniversary celebration on Sunday at the church, 5309 Royalton Center Road, Middleport.
The day will include morning worship at 9 a.m. and the celebration at 10:30 a.m., followed by cake and ice cream. All are welcome. Guest speaker will be the Rev. Kim Smith. The church pastor is the Rev. Bob Franke.
Old records show that Joel Bixby was largely responsible for forming the Royalton Center Society in 1818, with 16 members. Meetings were held in his log cabin home during winter months and in the summer they were held outside. This was part of a circuit and later on, as other societies formed and grew, traveling ministers served a number of societies.
In 1836, the first board of trustees was formed. The following year they voted to purchase a tract of land for the sum of $50, and plans were made for the building of the church.
The original church edifice was erected in 1838. It was rebuilt of brick in 1862, at a cost of $3,000. The south side land was purchased for $40, for a horses' shed in inclement weather. In 1895, the Ladies Aid Society contributed $500 for the addition of the chapel, which is thought to have initially served as a place for funerals as well as dinners and socials.
After several years of collecting funds to begin work, the chapel was added in 1895. According to the Ladies Aid minute book in 1909, stained glass memorial windows were installed at a cost of $500.
In 1938, the Rev. J. H. Beck, with the aid of many of the members, collected historical facts about the church for publication in a booklet marking its 100th anniversary.
When the Rev. John Clark was pastor in 1944, some major improvements were made. A basement was put under the church and a coal furnace was installed. At the same time a new floor was laid and the seats were rearranged. Three years later, the furnace was converted to oil.
The Rev. and Mrs. John Mann came to Royalton in 1951. In 1952, it was decided to put up a new belfry and to rehang the bell, which had blown down. Contributions at this time were raised for the redecorating of the church, inside and out, to prepare for the 115th anniversary celebration.
Through the years, many other improvements were made.
A picture of the church was painted in 1963 and now hangs in the Niagara County Historical Museum. The painting has been loaned to the church for the celebration.