The Land and Location:
The First Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church and Cemetery is located in rural Platte County, Nebraska in the central and eastern part of the state. The 34' x 24' one room wood frame building has a gable roof and is located on a two acre lot. The setting of the area is defined by rolling hills and open fields. Built in 1884 the simple building with minimal ornamentation rises from a stone and brick foundation and retains a high degree of historic integrity.
The former village of Postville is located in eastern-central Nebraska in Platte County. The geography of the area is diverse with the Platte River and its low-lands and valleys providing the southern boundary of the county, rolling hills primarily carved from glacial till on the easternmost side of the county, and dissected plains of steep slopes and drop-offs encompassing the western part of the county. It was in this area in the 1860's where a settlement of Welsh people gathered on the west bank of the Shell Creek in section 23 in Joliet Township and built their church.
The church resides on a lot of approximately two acres. The building faces east, is surrounded by a chain link fence and is oriented toward the road. A cemetery occupies the remaining ground behind the church. Old stones are mixed in with new and many family names recall the current membership as well as the original founders of the church congregation. Mature conifer type trees are scattered throughout the lot and in the far northwest comer of the property is the original outhouse. Overall, the First Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church and Cemetery retains a high degree of historic integrity, is a first-rate representation of a very simple building type, and is the only remaining illustration of the small community of Postville.
The Church Exterior:
The church has a rectangular plan of 34 feet by 24 feet with an 8 foot by 8 foot entrance hall on the East end. The construction is a wood frame building held together with square nails. It has no bell tower nor stained glass windows. It resembles a one-room school house, the primary identifying features of this building as a church are the double wood doors in the entry vestibule. The only exterior ornament of fish scale shingle work in the gable of the vestibule. The words "Postville Welsh Church, 1884" are painted on the glass transom above the entry doors.
The foundation under the main building consists of uncut stone footing supporting the main frame. The entrance hall foundation consists of cut brick. The wood-frame building is sheathed in horizontal drop siding. The roof is covered with wooden shingles. Windows and doors surrounds are of plain milled boards with no molding.
The Church Interior:
The inside walls are plastered and painted and stenciled with religious markings. The lower portion of the wall is of vertical board skirting. The ceiling is a painted decorative metal, approximately 15 feet high. The flooring is of a wide white pine board. There is a raised 8 feet wide sanctuary in front of the church. The floor and two sets of wooden steps leading up to the sanctuary is covered with the original carpet. The sanctuary held the pedaled organ, book case, a large armed minister chair with two smaller no armed chairs on each side, a pulpit and a piano still remain in the church today.
The church is lit by 6 rectangle windows, 7 feet high, 3 windows to the South and 3 windows to the North. Each window contains 8 panes of 20 inches by 14 inches of glass. At night the church was lit by 6 oil lamps mounted on each window plain milled boards. The original plan of the building consisted of two inside constructed chimneys and two wood burning stoves for heat. Some unknown time later the two inside chimneys were removed and one outside centered chimney was built with cut bricks from the ground up. The church was then heated with one large wood burning heater located toward the rear of the church.
Entrance: on the East end of the church, is made by going up 6 wooden steps, then through 2 inward hinged doors into an entrance hall. Wall mounted hooks on either side of the hall held the coats and hats. To enter the main portion of the church from the entrance hall, one must pass through two swinging doors. Sever-al rows of the original wooden chairs still remain in the church.
Changes to the Church:
Changes to the building overtime have been minimal. The front stairs have been rebuilt since its original construction but retain the spirit of the original stair. The original plan of the building consisted of two interior chimneys and two wood burning stoves for heat. Some unknown time later, but within the historic period, the two chimneys were removed and one outside chimney was centered on the west wall. The church was then heated with one large wood burning stove located toward the rear of the building. Six oil lamps were mounted on each of the six windows to light the church.
In 1990, as in 1944, the call went out in order to raise funds for the new fence. Seventy five family members were contacted by letter across the United States of America and the drive was a success. The response was so great that the fence was installed, the church was shingled, repaired and painted. Inside a display was donated and photo copies of records and church and community information is on display for the church visitors. A United States of America and a Christian flag stand on the floor of the sanctuary. A guest book is provided for the visitors who wish to sign.
In 1991 the old wooden shingles were removed and replaced with new wooden shingles. New wooden steps replaced the old wooden entrance steps. The outside wood horizontal drop siding was water blasted to remove all the old paint. The building was then primed and painted in an oil base white paint. New white inside window shades replaced the old ones. The church has never been wired for electricity. The church is easily visible from a well maintained gravel road that runs past the front of the