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SUMMIT CONGREGATIONAL UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
A missionary in 1887 decided that the upper floor of a building known as Summit House on the corner of Julien (University Avenue) and Delhi Street was the ideal location because there was no church of any denomination in that part of the city. (1) Word of the new Sunday School was spread by handbills and through the local newspapers. The message was answered by 177 people, far too many to meet in the lower rooms of Summit House, a station for passengers riding the streetcar line. (2)
The teachers in the school the first week were all Presbyterians. By the second week, the teachers were a blend of all the many denominations in the city. The church school was nondenominational and therefore accepted people of any faith. (3)
By 1888 the Sunday school had a weekly attendance of 117. This proved too great a task, and the FIRST CONGREGATIONAL UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST took over the school. (4) Known then as Union Sunday School, the weekly service was renamed Summit Sunday School in the belief that the location was the highest point in Dubuque. The first superintendent of the Summit Congregational Sunday School was John T. ADAMS.(4)
The size of the school grew to the degree that, by June 1889, discussion was being held about constructing a new building. Mrs. Edward Langworthy offered $500, a generous sum at the time, for the new building’s foundation if work began quickly. First Congregational Church accepted the challenge, and the cornerstone for Summit Church was laid on August 25, 1889. By October the church was completed at a cost of $3,800. On November 10 the first Sunday school classes were held. (5)
This new building, now the sanctuary of the church, had rows of seats facing a raised platform on which the piano and pulpit stood. The building also had four rooms for classes or meetings.
On November 20, 1890, twelve charter members formed the Summit Congregational Church. (6) The call to worship was announced with a 3,800-pound bell nicknamed Tillie for Matilda Kaiser in whose memory it was given to the church. The congregation rose to 230 Sunday school members within the first year and continued to grow so that by 1897 an addition was started, including eight more classrooms and a main gallery. Dedicated in 1898, this addition became the Sunday school area of the church. (7)
Fire gutted the building on December 12, 1911. In restoring the church, oak pews were installed along with leaded colored glass windows, carpeting, and the present organ. (8)
The 1987 Dubuque City Directory listed 1492 Delhi.
By the late 1980s the neighborhood was no longer a mainly residential area. After the congregation’s vision committee held its discussions, the entire congregation voted to move with 79% approval. FINLEY HOSPITAL (THE) purchased the site and a special pledge drive was held to pay for the construction of a new building.
1. "Church Anniversary is Starting This Morning," Nov. 18, 1945, p. 13
2. "Congregationalism in Dubuque," Telegraph Herald and Times Journal, May 12, 1929, p. 8
3. Chanaud, Timothy. "Summit Church to Celebrate March 8," Telegraph Herald, Feb. 27, 1987, p. 11
5. Chanaud, p. 11