September 12, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

The front façade facing 12th Street is imposing. A broad set of steps greets the visitor at Simpson United Methodist Church in East Austin. The classical design features large columns supporting a traditional pediment. A stepped steeple rises above the front façade. The masonry exterior is unadorned with simple white trim boards surrounding the windows and main entry doors. This church is a landmark. If you couldn’t tell, the sign out front tells you so!


The historic marker has been on this site since 1982. The congregation’s story tells of developments that have grown with Austin. Founded in 1880, the congregation moved quickly to build a facility which served them until they moved to the current site in 1922. The building was a modest masonry structure which is still in use today as the fellowship hall at the back of the property. A classroom wing was constructed above. By 1952, the church expanded with its current sanctuary. This classical composition, according to the cornerstone was composed by E. J. Hammons, designer.


I met two members when I visited Saturday. They happily showed me through the old church. They explained that the congregation has a strong outreach program. The church’s Facebook page currently features a recent Agape event to feed 45 people. When I visited, there was a young liturgical dance group practicing in the sanctuary. My hosts explained that the group is regularly involved in the services, and sometimes tours to other churches. Though the building may feel imposing, I only felt welcoming and warmth inside. I look forward to a longer visit.


Simpson United Methodist Church, 1701 East 12th Street, Austin, Texas

Sacred Architecture/ Historic Preservation/ Worship Spaces