St. Mark’s has a rich history that is very important to our community. We were recently added to the National Register of Historic places, designated for our history as the first church in the country to re-unite the Northern and Southern churches after the Civil War. The congregation itself also has a historic designation for its long history in Houston since 1875.
St. Mark United Methodist Church’s history began in the year 1875 when the German Emmanuel Methodist Episcopal Church started in Houston at the corner of Hamilton and Preston Street. They later moved to the corner of White Street and Lubbock, renaming the church to Zion Methodist Episcopal Church in 1891.
In 1925, the congregation became Norhill Methodist Episcopal Church, moving to the rapidly expanding Norhill section of Houston and erecting an new church building on Norhill Boulevard and 11th Street. The church began its relationship with the Boy Scouts during this period, with the establishment of Boy Scout Troop 30 – a scouting tradition that remains at St. Mark’s to this day.
In 1907, the Woodland Heights addition was opened, and in 1913, the Woodland Heights Methodist Episcopal Church, South was organized with 116 members. The church erected a church building of Texas limestone on the corner of Houston Avenue and Grota Street in the same year. The Woodland Heights Methodist Church was called a “Missionary congregation,” always responding generously to calls for missionary funds and relief for the poor. In 1927, outgrowing its building, the church purchased land at 600 Pecore for $9,750. With the onset of the Great Depression, building was delayed.
In 1938, the Norhill Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Woodland Heights Methodist Episcopal, South, both “bursting at the seams” in their current locations, merged with the new name, St. Mark’s Methodist Church selected by vote. Immediately following approval of the merger, fundraising and planning began to erect a new church and education building on the property at 600 Pecore. The building architect was James Ruskin Bailey. The cornerstone was laid on August 10, 1939. On Sunday, February 4, 1940, the old bell cast in 1892 for Zion Methodist Church rang out in St. Mark’s tower calling people to the new church’s first service. The phrase cast on the bell in German is: “Come unto me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
During the 1940’s and 1950’s the church continued to grow, and in 1960 the children’s building was opened.
In June 1993, Collins United Methodist Church, which had been located on West 11th Street in the Heights, merged with St. Mark’s United Methodist Church.
Over the years, the buildings have been updated and improved as the needs of the congregation and community have changed. We suffered a catastrophic fire in 2019 that began in the youth room and spread throughout the sanctuary building. We moved back into the restored building in September of 2022.
Watch this space, for a larger piece of history!