The original Pownal Methodist Church was designed by architect and builder, Noel Barber, and built with his help, by the men of the church in the year 1844. Prior to that date this small Vermont village had its spiritual needs filled by the traveling ministers or circuit riders, and also experienced the camp meeting revivals, which took place at or near the homes of the faithful. During the period of history when the church was served by circuit riders, services took place in district school houses or in the homes of members.
According to stories handed down from those days, the advent of the circuit rider was a social occasion of great moment, and days of baking, cooking, cleaning and general excitement preceded his arrival. In those days the Sabbath was strictly observed and all preparations were complied by evening time on Saturday, with baths and clean clothes for all the last order of business.
In the early 1840s, the Pownal Methodists began construction of the church. Timber was donated by Mr. And Mrs. John Hall from their farm on the west side of the Hoosic River. Other materials and labor were donated by the church members. The men worked in bees, raising the frame, under the watchful eye of Noel Barber. The women contributed to the cause by providing generous meals for the laborers.
The church, with a membership of 115, was dedicated in 1844. Oliver Spicer became the first regular pastor. By 1886, membership had dwindled to 61, and the Rev. Philip Goettel came to the village. He nearly doubted the membership in his four years as pastor, and endeared himself to Ac entire congregation. During his ministry, the annex and shed were added and the stained glass memorial windows put into the church sanctuary. In 1877, the parsonage was built (at a cost of $1100), again by the hands of the congregation with money and materials provided by the devoted members.
The church continued to be the spiritual and social center of the community until August 8th, 1980, when a fire, presumably started by a painter's blowtorch, completely destroyed the 136 year old church. The entire community and surrounding neighborhoods immediately set about raising funds to rebuild the church, and just one year later, on August 8th, 1981, a new, modern church was dedicated.
Pownal Methodists continue to be famous for bountiful meals, prepared in grand manner, A large percentage of the church revenue over the years has been derived from the church suppers, featuring turkey, chicken and ham, strawberry and peach shortcakes, served during the year by the women of the church assisted by the men and the young people.