The Methodist Society was established in Ipswich in 1824. They built their first Meeting House at the intersection of North Main and East Street, at the approximate location of the Ipswich Inn. The building at 4 East Street was the Methodist parsonage.
The current Methodist Church on Meeting House Green was constructed in 1859. Its steeple is eighteen feet wide at the base and over sixty feet tall, and is visible for some miles out to sea. The steeple appears on the town’s seal, drawn by Ipswich artist Arthur Wesley Dow.
On July 16, 1859, Trustees of the Ipswich Methodist Church purchased the present lot on the North Green from the County of Essex and proceeded to build their new meeting-house without a dollar being pledged. The cost of the structure and the site was $12,000. The building is 62 feet by 84 feet with capacity for 700 people in the pews.
The steeple had been a prominent landmark since the church was constructed and appears on the town’s seal, drawn by Ipswich artist Arthur Wesley Dow in the late 1800’s.
The Methodist Church steeple is visible for some miles out to sea and was often used by mariners as a navigation landmark.
In June 1973, lightning struck the steeple and it is reported to have been further damaged by a hurricane in 1974. The estimate for replacing the steeple being in excess of $100,000, the steeple was removed and its base was capped. It stayed that way for almost a quarter of a century.
In 1996 Bell Atlantic (now Verizon) offered to rebuild the steeple with the condition that it could place cellular phone transmission unit in it. A previous plan to build a cell tower had been blocked by the town zoning board. The church accepted the offer.
Eighteen feet wide at the base and over sixty feet tall, the new steeple was constructed in Texas by Fiberglass Specialties Inc., and was transported to Ipswich in sections for installation.
The steeple has a steel frame and fiberglass exterior, exactly matching the specifications of the original steeple. Verizon pays a monthly fee to the church for use of the facility.
The entire sanctuary ceiling of the Ipswich Methodist Church collapsed at 4 p.m. on Friday, May 25. 2018 hours before a group of up to 100 people was scheduled to meet. The church temporarily relocated its services at Ascension Memorial Church which is behind the building on County Street.