The Green Street Church of Englewood, Florida, is often called “the little white church” by locals. Located at 416 W. Green Street, the tiny building has played a huge role in the development of Englewood. Built in 1928 with all volunteer labor, the Green Street Church was the first church in town.
The building is a wood frame, rectangular shaped, one story structure with a two story bell tower. It’s original location was Magnolia Street, near Green Street. Local Methodists had been holding Sunday school classes in a home since 1905, but it wasn’t until the church was officially organized (in 1914) that the congregation was able to build a simple structure to house their congregation. This was accomplished without incurring any debt!
Members worshiped in their new church for the first time on April 5, 1928. Since Englewood was still very small at that time, the building served as the community center and hurricane shelter as well as a house of worship.
From the beginning the small congregation struggled to keep the church viable. They hired part- time ministers for a while, and even ended up with no minister at one point, and no money to hire one. Their unique solution: the ladies of the church held a bake sale which raised the $5 needed to pay for a minister. He also was a talented coronet player and on Sunday mornings his music drew folks from all over the area.
By 1952, the donations of the congregation were enough to support a permanent pastor, the Rev. Edgar E. Stauffer. The following year they enlarged the facilities, added pews and widened the front door so a casket could be brought in for funeral services.
The congregation broke ground for a new sanctuary in 1962 and the original building was moved to it’s present location, and turned so it faced Green Street. It was redesigned and named the Lampp Youth Center in recognition of the contributions made to the church by the Lampp family.
In 1979, when the Methodists moved to a new location, the old church building was bought by the Church of the Nazarene, which used it for a time for their worship services, as did a few community service groups. In 1983, Englewood Helping Hand leased the building from the Nazarenes and announced plans to renovate the building yet again.
At this point, the Lemon Bay Historical Society stepped in and voiced their concerns about changing the historical significance of the structure. After some discussion, the historic old building was leased to the Historical Society. In 1989 the group restored the building to its original 1920’s design, based on historical photographs. This involved removing the portico and replacing the bell tower.
The work was completed in 1992, when the church was converted into a museum. In 1997, with the aid of state and private grants, the interior of the building was also restored to the original design. It boasts beaded pine wainscoting as well as the original wood ceiling and floor.
Today the tiny church has come full circle as it once again serves as a community center – and also a museum. Because it maintains it’s original charm, it’s even used frequently as a site for intimate wedding ceremonies.