The pulpit once used by Nathan Scarritt was removed on Wednesday by Todd Sharbono (left), Ryan Schaub (upper right) and Christopher Leitch of the Kansas City Museum.
The demise of a venerable church means a boon for the historical collection of the Kansas City Museum.
A trove of records and objects from the Melrose United Methodist Church in the city’s old Northeast will find a new home in the museum’s collection. Some will eventually go on display at the museum’s Corinthian Hall, and others will be available for people researching genealogy or the history of the Northeast neighborhood.
Museum officials arrived at the church at Windsor and Bales avenues Wednesday morning to collect the material.
“Oh, my God,” exclaimed curatorial specialist Lisa Shockley as she and Katie Keckeisen came across a handwritten church register listing memberships, weddings and baptisms from 1911-17. Another had records back to 1892, just four years after the Melrose church held its first worship service under a tent.
The church was founded by Nathan Scarritt, an important figure in early Kansas City history, and the wooden pulpit he used to preach from at the church is among the objects being given to the museum.
Museum Director Christopher Leitch on Wednesday discovered a door within the pulpit which revealed chalk markings listing mysterious monetary accounts. They are among many things in the collection that will prompt further examination.
“To us, this is a gold mine,” Leitch said of the objects and church records.
Scarritt arrived in Westport in 1848 and helped to found Westport High School. He also taught at the Shawnee Indian Mission and traveled a circuit ministering to Indian tribes in the Kansas territory before the Civil War.
Becoming rich in land speculation as Kansas City boomed, he established his family home on the east bluffs.
The Melrose church was built nearby. But after 123 years, a dwindling congregation led to the church holding its final worship service last month.
Church member and volunteer Marci Strode on Wednesday helped the Kansas City Museum officials go through the materials. She said it is important that the church and Scarritt history remain intact and in the care of professionals.
The museum is acquiring a traveling communion set and Bible that Scarritt used in ministering to the Indians as well as two original, stained-glass panels from the Melrose church.
Other treasures include a hand-penned diary by Methodist Bishop Eugene R. Hendrix, Scarritt’s son-in-law, covering June to October of 1899, and an authenticated letter from Methodist founder John Wesley.
Read more:Kansas City Museum gets artifacts from storied Melrose United Methodist Church – KansasCity.com.