West Woodlawn United Methodist Church

The building that is now home to Doers of the Word Ministries on Messer Airport Highway in Birmingham, Alabama, is one of the most distinctive churches in the city. It was erected for West Woodlawn Methodist Episcopal Church, South in 1919. This was a transitional moment in American church architecture. Neo-medieval auditorium churches such as Woodlawn M.E. Church, South had built in 1911 were out of fashion. In fashion were classical revival churches such as Woodlawn Baptist completed in 1912 or Walker Memorial Methodist Episcopal, South in 1920. But these were a bit grand for the budget of West Woodlawn. In the 1920s, denominational officials such as Elbert Conover would make gothic or romanesque halls such as Avondale M.E. Church, South or the early units of Trinity M.E. Church, South in Homewood the go to form.

But in 1919, denominational architectural bureaus had not yet taken hold and the architect of West Woodlawn had a free hand. As was common he raised the church above a basement, but unusually topped the brick building with a wooden clerestory, crowning all with a colonial revival cupola. In the freedom it displays it reminds me of the first unit of Ivy Baptist Church in Newport News, Virginia, which was built about the same time.

This doesn’t really belong in my cornerstone series, because the cornerstone is gone. I don’t know if the church took it when it closed or if later owners or vandals removed it. If you know its fate, let me know.

Photo taken October 3, 2020.

Note: West Woodlawn M.E. Church, South and the other M.E. Church, South congregations listed were known as Methodist churches after 1939 and United Methodist churches after 1968, though some closed after that.

Read this first post for more on this series on Birmingham churches and their cornerstones.

Map of Sites in this Project

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