Buy Your Way To Heaven: Victorian Church In Bolton Hill Goes To Auction

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On June 19th at 11am, the Strawbridge United Methodist Church,  located at the corner of Park Avenue and Wilson Street in the heart of Bolton Hill, will be auctioned to the highest bidder. Included with the 8,000 sq. ft. church building, which features some lovely stained glass and an ornamental ceiling, is a 3,800 sq. ft, three story brick rectory. Both are in need of repair. Originally priced at $600,000, the property didn’t sell, and will now be auctioned with no minimum bid. It is being sold by the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church.


Built in 1881, the church designed in the Victorian Gothic style. Although attractive and interesting, it is not as architecturally significant as the Lovely Lane Methodist Church on St. Paul Street. Its namesake, however, was one of John Wesley’s original ministers to America (Wesley was founder of the Methodist Church in England), and his ministry was an enormous factor in the success of the American Methodist Church, which would rise to become a powerful political, as well as spiritual, influence on American thought.

According to historical documents,  Strawbridge arrived from Ireland in 1760, and settled in Frederick County. He was an itinerant preacher who traveled throughout Maryland to spread the Methodist faith, although his own family’s chronic poverty caused him to lament “Who will keep the wolf from my own door while I am abroad, chasing after lost sheep?”

robert strawbridge

Strawbridge died in 1781, and never lived to see this church. But due in great part to his efforts, the Methodist Church in Maryland thrived. By 1881, when the Strawbridge United Methodist Church was built, the Methodists were on their way to becoming, after Baptists, the second largest Protestant denomination in a largely Protestant country.

Times change, neighborhoods change, and the number of practicing Methodists in Bolton Hill has apparently declined. The church stopped being used in 2009, and is now in need of several million dollars in repairs.  The Strawbridge United Methodist Church is an architectural focal point for the popular and scenic neighborhood of Bolton Hill, and a buyer with deep pockets and a historic sensitivity would be the answer to a collective prayer.The auction will take place on the premises at 201 Wilson Street in Bolton Hill. For more information, contact Dan Billig at [email protected]




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