Oral historical accounts indicate the Wheatley Church building (originally Wheatley Methodist Episcopal Church) suffered fire damage requiring renovations, in the late 19th century. A recessed pulpit and Victorian tin wall panels were added and the church became Wheatley Methodist Protestant Church, as other rural Methodist churches during that period.
Major termite damage was discovered in the early 1970’s requiring removal of the original hand-hewn log foundation and pine flooring. Oak floor joists and carpet covered plywood flooring were installed, as was wood paneling to cover damaged Victorian tin wall panels.
Recently, members set out to remove the 1970s wood paneling, replace damaged Victorian tin panels and pine flooring, prior to the upcoming 235th anniversary celebration. During their work, serious deterioration of the foundation and historical standing structures was found. The tin panels had to be removed to fully expose the structures. Eighteen-inch-wide horizontally placed pine boards were discovered revealing the late 1700s colonial Episcopal persuasion.
The findings halted the original renovation plan and a three-phase “preservation” plan has been adopted. Phase one, to stabilize and close the building, is well underway. Structural repairs and a new foundation are now complete. The sides will be closed using salvaged clap board siding, discovered under the 1970’s aluminum siding. Custom cut and finished clap boards, to replace missing and damaged boards, have been secured. The carpeted plywood flooring will soon be removed and antique pine flooring, obtained from old houses being demolished, will be installed as the original plan. As resources become available, subsequent phases will be completed with finishing the interior to reflect both the Colonial and Victorian historic periods, and installing a heating system.
This old country Methodist Church has been standing as long as America - prior to the inauguration of our first United States president. It has survived a fire and serious damage by one of God’s own creations – termites. With God’s help, prayers, much determination and hard work, this old country Methodist Church will continue to serve God as a church for generations to come. During the preservation works, worship services continue 9:30 am the first, third and fifth Sundays, in the Wheatley Community House. All are invited to join us, as your schedule allows.