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Arcadia United Methodist Church was organized in 1919 in a small abandoned Episcopal church building located at the corner of Wallace Park.

Owned by the Paducah Traction Company, Wallace Park included a large area from 31st and Jefferson Streets (where the Coca-Cola building is now located). It circled from a point on Jefferson and included parts of Buckner Lane, to Alben Barkley Drive, turning back onto Lone Oak Road, making a complete circle. Wallace Park was a busy place and a staple within the community. Throughout the year, particularly during the warmer months, there were activities abounding. The park was home for baseball diamonds and bleachers, a movie theater, an open-air dance pavilion, picnic areas, and lots of trees! Streetcars would make their round trips on schedule from downtown to Wallace Park via Jefferson Street. The track was located where the Jefferson Street grass median is now. 

Source: Digital Collections, McCracken County Public Library




Number one on the priority list was a place to meet. The initial thought was to simply contact the school board to request permission to meet in the Arcadia School building. But another possibility was presented. On the southwest corner of Wallace Park stood a small, neglected church building owned by Grace Episcopal Church. The Methodists began to make an effort to obtain permission to use the building but another denomination was also interested. Not to be discouraged, they believed God would provide a way for this building to once again be a proud worship center. 


Charles Q. C. Leigh, son of Rev. W. H. Leigh (Paducah District Presiding Elder in 1878-1880), learned of the complicated project. After some prayer and guidance, Leigh purchased the building from Grace Episcopal and donated its use to the Methodist group with the stipulation that it must be used for church purposes. Ecstatic, the group held their very first Sunday School September 18, 1919, under the guidance of Broadway and Fountain Avenue Methodist Churches. Sunday School was held on Sunday afternoons with H. H. Johnston (from Fountain Avenue) serving as the first superintendent. 











Known as the Arcadia Community, it was a close-knit place to live. There were several community landmarks for this area, in addition to Wallace Park. The Arcadia School was most notable. It was a two-story white building for grades one through twelve. There was an outdoor basketball court, as well as outdoor plumbing. On the corner of Clark Street and Lone Oak Road, next to the school building, was the Schmaus Brothers Greenhouse. On the opposite corner of Clark and Lone Oak Roads was a blacksmith shop, a doctor's office, and drug store. Two grocery stores were nearby. 

Source: Arcadia United Methodist Church History Book 1919-1984

In May 1920, the sponsoring churches helped organize a two-week revival for the new Methodist church, which garnered a lot of religious interest within the community, which created sentiment for the organization of the church. By the end of the two weeks, a church was organized. On June 6, the H. W. Leigh Memorial, a Methodist Episcopal Church South, was established with 26 charter members and 10 associate members. 

Four years later, on November 1, 1924, the congregation received notice from Paducah Traction Company that Wallace Park had been sold. This would mean that the church building would need to be moved. The little congregation was able to purchase a lot on 32nd and Adams Streets, northeast of Arcadia School. Much the amazement of onlookers, on November 19, the church building was lifted onto rollers and moved from its original location to the new site with the help of Paducah Traction Company. This was no small task and required many within the community to help. 

By 1925, the congregation had grown to 128 members, which sparked the need for more space. A Sunday School annex was constructed as well as a fellowship hall. This little church was growing into a main staple within the community. It would be during this year that they officially changed their name to Arcadia Church. 

Source: Arcadia United Methodist Church Archives

Rev. C. H. Rayl was appointed to Arcadia Church in 1950. Rev. Rayl was known as both a pastor as well as architect and builder. He was just what this congregation needed to get the new church off the ground. With the industrial boom occurring in Paducah thanks to the new Carbide Plant and Shawnee Steam Plant, the congregation decided to build a larger church than they originally had planned. 

Growth continued throughout the next decade, prompting more discussion for the need of growth. Unfortunately, the Great Flood of 1937 would devastate the nearby downtown Paducah area. This flood prompted many to move to the Arcadia neighborhood, which was just out of reach of the floodwaters. New homes and other construction were filling the empty lots. The onslaught of new property purchases prompted Arcadia Church to purchase two lots at the corner of Lone Oak Road and Clark Street in 1939. This would become their permanent location which still this church calls home. 




















Source: Arcadia United Methodist Church Archives

Arcadia Church was blessed to have many skilled workers among the congregation. R. A. and Leslie Feast were the contractors. Thomas Foster built the cabinet work. Harry Houser crafted the light fixtures for the chapel. W. H. Rein constructed the cross that still stands atop the bell tower. 


On May 12, 1952, the congregation moved into the completed basement for the very first worship service in the new building, while construction continued overhead. On Mother's Day 1954, the sanctuary was completed and the congregation moved upstairs. The building is adorned with 85 stained glass windows and seats 200+ worshippers. To this day, Arcadia United Methodist Church continues to serve the people of the community both near and wide, providing to all a welcoming church seeking to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. 

Source: Arcadia United Methodist Church Archives

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