From The Community Church to……………….
Port Edwards, formerly called Frenchtown, was founded in 1840, at which time John Edwards, Sr., and Henry Clinton established a sawmill. The water power of the Wisconsin River was utilized for lumber manufacturing, with a major focus in producing shingles. In about 1864, the area was incorporated as the Village of Port Edwards, after John Edwards Sr.
From 1858-1879, two schoolhouses were built. Mrs. John Edwards, Jr., (Frances J. Morrill) bought the second school and presented it to the village as a chapel. She donated land and had the building moved to Letendre Avenue, just west of Wisconsin River Drive. The chancel (area around altar) was added at this time and the church became known as “The Community Church”.
Catholic, Lutheran, and Methodist services were held each Sunday at different hours in this building. The Catholic group was actually a mission of the Nekoosa Sacred Heart Parish, and when the electric interurban line began service in 1910, the Catholic faithful attended Mass at Nekoosa. The Lutherans also then had street car transportation to Nekoosa and Wisconsin Rapids.
In December, 1917, the church reopened after a remodeling program, which included stained glass windows, pews and an organ from a Milwaukee church–gifts of Lewis M. Alexander. There were nine pews down the center of the church with an aisle on each side. The piano was placed on the east side of the chancel alcove.
A huge fire occurred on December 14, 1946, which burned the Church beyond repair. The basement was salvaged and converted into a sanctuary until a new church could be constructed. It served until 1948, when a new building was begun. Dedication of the new church was held on Oct 30, 1949. The Hammond organ, Carillonic bells, tower music, and the stained glass altar window were given in memory of Lewis Miller Alexander and Lida Edwards Alexander by the Alexander family: including Mr. John Edwards Alexander, Mrs. Dorothy Dean Alexander and their five daughters–Ardean (Casey), Doris (Veneman), JoAnn (Lester), Marcia (McCormick), and Paula (Wright).
Thanks to all the people of the congregation and community who made this beautiful church possible.
The basement of the former church continued to serve as a meeting place for Sunday School classes, for meetings of the Women’s Society, and for social events affiliated with the church.