In 1887, Austin was a bustling city of 12,000; Jesse L. Driskill opened his magnificent new hotel at the corner of 6th and Brazos Streets and the University of Texas celebrated its third birthday.
These facts come from a history of UUMC written by long-standing member Dr. Margaret Berry. In March of 1887, Berry wrote that Reverend J. E. Stovall began services in Honey Chapel, a tiny building on the UT campus owned by the Northern Methodist Episcopal Church. It was located at the northeast corner of 24th Street and Whitis Avenue.
On that first Sunday, four people became members of the 24th Street Methodist Church (now University United Methodist Church.) During the first year, others jo
ined, including Dr. George B. Halsted, an eccentric mathematics professor who built his home near the corner of 24th and Guadalupe Streets, where UUMC now stands.
He built it on stilts to avoid malaria but having hogs and chickens under his house did not bother him. In 1891, the congregation moved to a new and larger building at the corner of Nueces and 24th Streets, Hotchkiss Memorial, and then in 1909 to the current site at 24th and Guadalupe Streets.
Over the past century, the church has been renovated a number of times, the congregation has grown and the number of services has increased. One notable event in the church’s history occurred in 1957, a time when acrimonious civil rights demonstrations and confrontations were taking place across the country.
The first black members were received into the church, which for more than a decade had attracted to services black students from Huston-Tillotson College. Another historic event took place on November 22, 1964, when a memorial service for President John F. Kennedy was held, attended by President Lyndon B. Johnson and Governor John Connally.
In 2008, the congregation undertook a major capital campaign to repair and renovate the church to prepare it for next century of service to the community.