First United Methodist Church of Manchester
is the oldest continuous church in Coffee County. In 1812 a Circuit
Rider Preacher by the name of Issac Conger established a Methodist
church somewhere near Old Stone Fort. A log church building was
constructed in 1815, and used until 1852. When the city of Manchester
was laid off as the seat of justice in Coffee County, lots on Church
Street were donated to six different denominations. This is the
only church still on its original property. The building was so
seriously abused during the Civil War it had to be demolished.
It was not until 1883 that the present church was built. The building
was enlarged and extensively remodeled two different times. From
1916 to 1949, the sanctuary was turned end to end with extensions
on each side of the building. In 1949 the building was returned
to its original form and greatly enlarged. The second electronic
organ was installed in the 1949 remodeling.
By 1965, the church was considering the possibility of replacing
the sanctuary. A 32 rank pipe organ was designed that could eventually
be used in a larger building. The console and eight ranks, classically
voiced, were installed on the front wall of the rather long narrow
nave. Ten years later, it was decided to stay in the present
building, and the 32 ranks were completed. Part of the wall behind
the altar was removed creating a very open organ chamber so that
the completed instrument still speaks directly into the nave.
The Sanctuary with its many changes through the years is an
amazingly functional space. With a rather high ceiling and very
little carpet, the organ speaks clearly and all vocal music can
be performed with no need for electronic amplification.