Liberty United Methodist Church will receive its official historical marker during a dedication ceremony at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 8, at 7598 S. Liberty School Road, Buckeye.
Guest speakers will include Roger Brevoort, architectural archivist; and Robert Hoshibata, bishop of the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church.
State and local dignitaries are expected to attend; descendants of the original settlers will also be recognized. The ceremony will include a video of the church’s history and an unveiling of the marker.
Liberty United Methodist Church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 28, 2017. The National Register is the official listing of the nation’s cultural resources worthy of preservation.
The Liberty United Methodist Church is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places for its association with the origins of the small, rural community of Liberty. The church and the Liberty Elementary School, located across the street, are the only two prominent buildings that reflect the origins of Liberty.
The church was nominated for its architectural merit as one of the very few examples of the mission revival style in Arizona from the pre-statehood era. The church also has historic associations with the growth and maturation of Liberty, prior to Arizona gaining statehood
The Liberty United Methodist Church, completed in 1911, is an example of the mission revival style that was in vogue at the time, especially in the American Southwest. A second, freestanding building was constructed in 1948, dedicated as a Memorial Hall to five residents who died in WWII.
The educational building, an addition that abuts the north wall of the church building was completed in 1964. The dates of the initial church construction and the later addition that relates to the educational mission of the church define the period of significance.
Prominent Liberty residents Nathanial Sanders, Henry A. Hammels, and the Rev. Ralph Fields were instrumental in the establishment of this new church. These three men each contributed $500 to start a building fund for the church. Additional support came from other locals. Mr. R. Hammels was a cattle rancher who emigrated from Germany, through New York, arrived in Arizona in 1883, and moved to Buckeye in 1901, becoming an active cattle rancher.
Congregant Michele Justice said the church was founded with 27 members; now there are 90. Fifty pastors have led the church, with the Rev. Bev Ritland joining in 2002.
The church realized the potential for historical designation after Hoshibata gave the church $2,000 to energize the congregation.
“We thought we would use the money for signs, but you can’t put up signs in the right of way,” Justice said.
“We could if we were a historical building or place, with the help of the bishop and an architect. We celebrated our 100th anniversary in 2009. We went to the archives in Phoenix, and there’s a book published about that, too.”
Liberty United Methodist Church is one of the oldest churches in the Salt River/Buckeye Valley. Regular services are at 10 a.m. Sundays. For more information, call 480-273-4806.