Galt California's four historic churches


When Doctor Obed Harvey and the Central Pacific Railroad laid out the grid that would define the boundaries of the new little valley town, they agreed to set aside land on all four corners of the grid to be donated to four churches.  As the town grew, the four church structures which are designated.  Later they were listed in the Galt Master Plan “Historic Element” as landmark structures.  They are St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, St. Christopher’s Catholic Church, the United Methodist Church of Galt, and the Galt Christian Church, which now is the home of the Galt Harvest Church.  Each of these churches lists pioneer names in its early roster. 

Two of these historic Galt churches, St. Luke’s and St. Christopher’s remain almost as they were built, and the Galt Area Historical Society has plaques to identify them as historic landmark buildings in our community, to be preserved as part of our heritage. 

Galt’s First Church

  Originally the First Congregational Church of Galt name was changed to Saint Luke's Episcopal in Galt.

The third church in Galt was the First Congregational Church on the corner of 3rd and B streets.  It was the result of the efforts of John McFarland and Doctor Obed Harvey.  Under the leadership of the two men, the congregation made donations and raised the funds for their church.   

The cornerstone was laid in May, 1884.  The bell, pews, millwork and stained glass windows were shipped from San Francisco.  The body of the church was 48 feet long, 32 feet wide and 30 feet high.  The tall slender steeple is 84 feet high.  One window was donated in memory of Maude Harvey, infant daughter of Oved and Susan Harvey.  

In 1901, a small group asked to use the church for Episcopal services twice a month, and until 1914, both Congregational and Episcopal services were held there.   

In 1914, the Mission Guild was formed.  Members of this organization helped raise money for the church through their annual bazaar, which is still held today.   

Sometime in the early 1920’s the church changed it’s name from First Congregational to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.  In 1923, it established the Guild Hall, a church social hall, in a building on property donated by Mr.  and Mrs.  Hull McClaughry.  This property was sold to the Galt Fire District where a firehouse was constructed.  A new parish hall was erected in back of the church, with a prayer garden being planned between the buildings.  

Among the pioneer names listed in the church roster are McFarland, Harvey, Orr, and Sawyer.  St. Luke’s Church celebrated its centennial in 1984.  This historic structure had been persevered as it was built.  Its tall steeple is easily visible from 4th Street. 

This is St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Galt today.             The plaque to mark this historic site of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Galt.

The church in 2003   The historic plaque

Galt’s Second Church

The old Saint Christopher's Church in Galt today.  It is used now for as a Catholic Community Center.           The plaque to mark this historic site of St. Christopher's Catholic Church in Galt.

On October 12, 1885, the little brick Catholic Church of St. Christopher’s was built and dedicated in Galt at the corner of 3rd and F Streets.  St. Christopher's Catholic church in Galt, California made the four promised churches, each on a corner of the original town grid.   

As it happened, the day of the dedication of St. Christopher’s Church was also the 393rd anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, so the members of the congregation chose the patron saint of travelers, Saint Christopher, as the name of the church.   

The Galt Weekly Gazette of October 10, 1895, reported that the Italian man-of-war, Christopher Columbus, was lying at anchor in San Francisco Bay, ready to fire an honorary salute at the precise hour of the dedication of the Galt Church.  Present for the dedication ceremony was Governor George Stoneman and Patrick Riordan, Archbishop of San Francisco Diocese.   

At first the church had no pastor and the pastoral duties were performed by the priest from Jackson.  In 1919, St. Christopher’s became an independent parish with Father James Grealy as pastor and remained until 1927.  The first baptism recorded in St. Christopher’s Parish Register, is that of Angleina Batchelder, and the first marriage was that of Mary McEnerney and August James Beakey.  Other pioneer families known to be a part to the Galt church history are Kenefick, Rae, Valensin, Lippi, Denevi, McCauley, McEnerney and Marengo.   

On October 12, 1985, St. Christopher’s celebrated its 100th birthday.  Its Etruscan spire was refurbished and some cement decorations removed for safety.  A new handicap ramp and brick stairway replaced the old cement stairs, but the body of the church and its stained glass window over the altar are still original.   

In 2001, a new church was built and dedicated to meet the needs of a growing congregation.  The new church was built on south Lincoln Way, near Kost Road, not far from Dry Creek Bridge.  It is Spanish mission style and has the large stained glass window which was taken down from the west wall of the old church and moved to the new one.   

The old St. Christopher’s Church is still in use as a Catholic Community Center.

Galt’s Third Church

This Methodist church replace the one that burned to the ground.

This is the second Galt Methodist church building used from 1900 to 1969 . 

This is a photo of a painting hanging in the church.  It was painted by Pat Frey.

This is a photo of a painting hanging in the church today. 

This is the current Methodist church in Galt circa 2004.         The plaque to mark this historic site of the Methodist Church in Galt.


The Galt Methodist Church in 2004

In 1880, when the Hicksville congregation moved to Galt, the United Methodist Church of Galt was founded.  Known then as the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, the location of the church was given as the Harvey Grove School House, located close to 7th and F Streets.  It was the second church to be placed in the town of Galt as was agreed upon by the Railroad and Doctor Harvey. 

At that time, the church was served by a Methodist Circuit Rider who came through Galt on his route to bring the Word of God and to “marry and bury”.  On the weeks he was not present, the people held their own services and Sunday School. 

In 1905, the Isler Blacksmith Shop on the corner of 6th and C Streets burned to the ground, and so did the Methodist Church.  It is said that the flames were so hot that the windows in the Isler home across the street were cracked.  In October, 1885, the trustees of the Methodist Church purchased the now-vacant lot at the corner of 6th and C Streets to build a new church.  By 1900, a new church was completed, built in the traditional rural style with peaked windows and a tall spire and belfry.  That church survived until 1969, when it was torn down to make way for building the present structure. 

In 1971, on Easter Sunday, the first services were held in the present two-story church.  A memorial sanctuary was built and dedicated in 1979. 

Among the pioneer names in the church records of the Galt Community Methodist Church are Orr, Mullins, Hauschildt, Willyars, Angrave, Chase, and Wright. 

Galt’s Forth Church

The Christian Church was moved from Liberty to its present location in Galt.         The plaque to mark this historic site of the Christian Church in Galt.

The original look 

In 1857, the Christian Church, was built in the little town of Liberty.  It is said to be the first church in the area and the oldest church structure in the city of Galt. 

When the town of Galt was created, the little town of Liberty just south of Galt, began moving its buildings into the new town.  Hotels, saloons, the school, and in 1878, the Christian Church which was placed just at the corner of the original grid, now 7th and B Streets.  It had a square Gothic bell tower.  Its battlements were an unusual example of the 1860 architecture, usually Greek Revival.  Its entry faced the wide stairway and landing to the south.  Its windows were arched and clear. 

As the church grew, its windows leaked, and woodpeckers found the bell tower to be a good place to nest.  In 1925, a basement was added as a meeting hall for the congregation.  The late William Hobday told how difficult it was to remove the dirt without damaging the church building when they were constructing the basement. 

In 1955, the church celebrated its centennial by doing some renovation.  The bell tower spire was removed and the front stairs were reconstructed and faced east with a new covered landing at the entry. 

The original church was constructed of lumber that came round the Horn.  That lumber is still in use as the main body of the church as it was when it was moved from Liberty. 

Among the list of pioneer church goers we can find the names of Chism Cooper Fugitt, founder of the town of Liberty, as well as Fuga, Briggs, Hunt, Smithson, and Allport. 

Here you can see the very old cars in front of the Christian Church in Galt without the spire.

This photo would seem to suggest that the spire was removed well before 1955. 

This is the old Christian Church in Galt.  Now it is Rosa De Saron, a protestant Mexican church.

The "first church" today.  The ground floor is currently Rosa De Saron, a Spanish language church for the Mexican population.  The basement is rented to a charter school for high school credit.   

We hope that you have enjoyed reading these thumbnail sketches of the four churches, which were a part of the original plans for the City of Galt.  St. Luke’s and St. Christopher’s are still as they were originally.  They are recognized by the City of Galt, in the Master Plan, as landmarks of significant historic importance.  The maintenance and the preservation of these churches is extremely important to Galt’s history. 

Galt's Churches today

Galt Area Historical Society Home page

Last edited 5 Dec., 2006