Our History

This congregation was founded by Dr. Samuel Dodd who was born at Beelers Station, West Virginia, on September 20, 1835. He was a school teacher and a veteran of the Civil War before graduating from Western Reserve College as a medical doctor in 1867. In 1877, he began to minister to the soul instead of the body. In 1880, he went as a missionary to Kansas where he remained for three years. There he founded several churches, among them, The First Christian Church of Topeka, Kansas. In 1883, he returned to this area and founded a number of churches, including one in Beaver Falls, one in Rogers, and The First Church of Christ in East Palestine. In February of 1892, although residing in Enon Valley, Pennsylvania, Dr. Dodd held the first meeting in East Palestine. Later that decade, Dr. Dodd moved his family to East Palestine.

Although the first meetings of this congregation were held in 1892, no church building was constructed until 1895. In the early years, the embryonic group met at the old Armory Hall on south Market street, later the location of Overlander’s Opera House. In 1895, a small edifice was erected on the east side of south Market street between Wood and Garfield streets. The congregation began to grow slowly but steadily, and in 1899 the group began to plan for a larger and better place of worship. A lot on Rebecca street was then donated by C.A. Lentz who also donated the pews for the new sanctuary. In August of 1899, J.C. Hofmeister was awarded the contract for the new Disciple Church. The main room was 30 by 40 feet. There was a vestibule in the front and two dressing rooms and a baptistry in the back of the church. The church was not a large or imposing building but was neat and modern and admirably suited for the small congregation.

In 1917, the congregation again felt the need for expanded facilities. They purchased a lot at the corner of North Market and West Martin streets from Thomas Morrow. A building committee composed of C.A. Lentz, B.S. Gorby, Everett Handte and Rev. W.J. Whitehead awarded a contract to a Mr. Miller of Massillon, Ohio. On May 3, 1917, the Leader Press described, The new building will be a very beautiful structure. Buff colored brick will be used in its construction, and the auditorium will seat about 900 persons while the Sunday school will be able to accommodate 1,000. A balcony will be constructed on three sides and seventeen classrooms will be available. On May 29, 1918, the Leader Press reported the following: A week of dedicatory services begins. The church has a total cost exceeding $30,000, $10,000 of which was donated by C.F. Adamson. As the congregation grew, parking became a problem. The church purchased the lot immediately north of the sanctuary in 1957. Then in 1962, plans were completed to erect an educational unit on the newly purchased lot. This two-level addition provided office space, fifteen additional classrooms, restrooms and kitchen facilities. Upon completion of this educational wing, the rear of the lot became a parking lot.

By the early 1970s, the years had taken its toll on the 1918 structure. Engineers evaluated the feasibility of reinforcing the building’s structure as opposed to building a new sanctuary. After much deliberation, the monumental task of razing and rebuilding was initiated in early 1977. Many members expressed sentimental regrets about the demolition of the building that had served so well from 1918 to 1977. The razing of the old sanctuary began in May of 1977. During the interim, Sunday services were held at the local high school auditorium. The first service held in the new sanctuary was on Christmas Eve of 1977.

The sanctuary, with vaulted ceiling and colored glass windows, has royal blue padded pews and a rust and brown geometric carpet enhanced by oak woodwork. The Modern Gothic decor is in sharp contrast to the simple structure of 1895. Atop the roof are Carillon Chimes donated by the world-famous comedian Bob Hope, who first performed professionally in East Palestine. Again, as the number of worshipers increased and as fire codes and laws regarding the handicapped became more stringent, the church needed to expand. The need for additional classrooms, restrooms, and modernized kitchen facilities, all accessible from the parking lot in the rear of the church, was clear. The groundbreaking ceremony was held early in October of 1991. Four new classrooms were created in the old fellowship hall in the basement of the church. Two new handicap accessible restrooms were built on the upper floor of the educational wing. An all-purpose room, 72 feet by 50 feet, with facilities for sports and large meetings and dinners was built, west and adjacent to the educational unit. Ramps provided easy accessibility to all areas. The dedication of the new facilities was held on June 14, 1992.

To this day, the entire building is used to serve and worship the Lord.