Methodist preaching was first heard in Key West in 1832 when two traveling missionaries came here by schooner. For 12 years the gathering of Methodists often met in the home of a Bahamian named Samuel Kemp. Believe it or not, some of Samuel Kemp’s descendants continue to worship in the sanctuary today of the United Methodist Church simply known as “Old Stone”!
Named “Old Stone” because it was constructed of native coral rock. This material, called Key Limestone, was quarried in part from the church grounds itself! The hole left after the rock was removed was lined and capped for many years served as a cistern. The cisterns water supplied not only the church, but also parts of the community, as well as ocean-going vessels that sailed into Key West for supplies.
A series of four churches was built before the present sanctuary. The third was built on the present site and was soon destroyed by a hurricane. However, the insurance money enabled the congregation to build a small frame sanctuary, which was completed on the present site in October of 1847. Get this, during the 1950’s it was discovered that the present sanctuary was built over a small cemetery behind the old sanctuary. One tombstone may still be seen on the Simonton Street side of the building!
You can find this oldest brick church in Key West with so much history at 600 Eaton Street in the area known as Old Town.