In 1908, trustees for the Methodist Episcopal Church- South signed a contract to pay Joseph and Julia Courand $3,000 for the two lots at the corner of S. Alamo and Wickes. The Courands, who owned Courand Grain Co., lived next to those two lots in their impressive mansion at the corner of Adams and S. Alamo. By 1912, the newly formed congregation had accumulated enough money to build a new church building. In 1913, the church was dedicated and given the name, Alamo Methodist Church. Beverely Spillman designed the building, a fine example of mission style architecture popular in South Texas at that time.
For over fifty years, the little church played an important role in the spiritual life of King William residents but by the late 1960’s the membership had declined to the point that the church could no longer be sustained and the congregation finally disbanded. After sitting vacant for several years suffering abuse from vandals and vagrants, the church building was purchased in 1976 by Bill and Marcia Larsen who transformed it into a restaurant and theatre. In 2005, the building went through yet another extensive renovation by the new owner and King William neighbor, Paul Alan Boskind.
Shelby and Mollie Sorrells and their daughters, Pat and Teresa, lived in the house behind the church on Wickes for several years. The cottage was originally the church parsonage but had ceased to be used for that purpose. “When we first moved in, we had a lot of late night visitors,” said Pat Sorrells Patrick. “People would ask for food, money, a place to stay -- couples wanting to get married.”
“I have great memories from those days,” said Pat. “We were teenagers in the early 60’s when the MYF produced a live Christmas pageant in front of the church that was a traffic stopper. The nativity story was broadcast from the balcony towers. Mary and Joseph, angels, shepherds and wise men all processed across the lawn in a thirty minute show that was really quite beautiful. Beth Ricks was Mary and Buddy Cleveland was Joseph. Grover Cleveland, George Ricks and Mary Inez Wagner (because she was tall) doubled first as shepherds then as wise men. I was the angel who appeared to the shepherds.”
“One year, we had a Good Friday pageant in the sanctuary. It drew crowds not only from the congregation but from the entire neighborhood as well. People were in tears as they watched a bruised and bleeding Jesus (Grover Cleveland), carry the cross down the aisle, stumbling and falling while being whipped by Roman soldiers.”
“In the summer, our watermelon festival was a popular neighborhood event. About two feet of ice was put in the outside doorway of the half basement and the melons were nestled in it; 25 cents a slice as I recall. We also had games including a watermelon seed spitting contest. The neighborhood children had a great time sliding on cardboard boxes down those long curving concrete banisters on the outdoor stairs.
Carolene Zehner’s parents, Caroll Schmidt and Jullienne Perkins, were married in the Alamo Methodist Church parsonage on April 24, 1943. “They celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary last month during Fiesta”, said Carolene. “The minister, Reverend Parrish officiated while his wife played the organ. Both my parents were from San Antonio, but my father was in the Army Air Corps, stationed in Liberal, Kansas at the time, so he flew into Kelly aboard a transport plane. My mother’s friends from her childhood were scheduled to arrive in San Antonio by train to take part in the wedding but when they didn’t show up, another couple had to be called at the last minute to stand in. After the ceremony, they learned that their first choices for the wedding party were still on the train heading for San Antonio and also aboard that same train was President Roosevelt! The reason for the delay was because they stopped the train at every bridge crossing so the bridge trusses could be checked for explosives.
“My parents attended Alamo Methodist Church while they were dating as it was a short walk from the rooming house where my mother lived – now Mike Casey’s house on South Alamo. After the war, they continued their membership while living on Elmira St.” Teresa Sorrells Comeaux remembers her wedding as being the very last one to be held in the church. “It was June 20, 1970 and the Reverend Don Hubley officiated.”
One of the most dramatic features of the church is the beautiful stained glass windows. One of the large windows in the front is inscribed “In memory of our mother, Mary F. Swearingen.” Yet another memorializes Martha Wood White and Martha W. Bradshaw. If any neighbors recognize these names, please contact the newsletter staff so the information can become yet another interesting addition to the history of the church.