Attends Funeral of William Brockman Bankhead
— Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives —
Methodism came to Jasper with the city's founder, Dr. Edward Gordon Musgrove, who donated land for the courthouse and for most of downtown Jasper. In 1826, he and others constructed a building of large hewn logs that was used as both a Methodist church and a school. Around 1858, a two-story frame church building was constructed. Unsubstantiated local accounts state the church was burned to the ground in March of 1865 by General James H. Wilson's cavalry corps. Another frame building, shared with the Masons, was erected here in 1869. In 1888, it was replaced by a brick church with a steeple.
In 1915, when a new church was planned, Lycurgus B. Musgrove, grandson of Dr. Edward Musgrove, provided the funds for the white marble exterior and donated the stained glass dome in memory of his mother, Elizabeth Cain Musgrove. First United Methodist Church Jasper was dedicated, debt-free, in 1927.With distinguishing features such as white marble from Georgia, mahogany wood interior, stained glass windows and an art glass interior dome, the church is among Alabama's most outstanding examples of beaux arts neoclassical architecture. The church was listed to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage in 1983 and to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
On Tuesday, September 17, 1940, the funeral of William Brockman Bankhead, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, was held at the First United Methodist Church, Jasper. Bankhead (1874-1940) was elected to the House in 1917 and served as its Speaker from 1936 until his death. He was a political ally of President Roosevelt and his New Deal policies.
Of the estimated 40,000 people who attended Bankhead's funeral were many Alabama notables, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and member of his Cabinet, and State and Congressional Representatives and Senators, including Harry S. Truman, who later serves as U.S. President. They arrived in Jasper by special train from Washington D.C. A wooden ramp was built at the church so that the official car transporting the President could drive up to the main door. Today, a brass plaque marks the pew occupied by President Roosevelt during the funeral service.