ALBERTA GARY MEMORIAL UMC
Few United Methodist churches are named as memorials to relatively recent figures. Who was Alberta Gary?
In January 1871, Edward and Emily Spedden donated land, known as "the old Patterson farm," for a church. They stipulated that, if a building was not erected within two years, the donation would be void and the land would return to the Spedden family. The trustees of the land then began looking for funding to build a church.
At this time, the major employer in the area was the Guilford cotton mill, owned by James Albert Gary (1833-1920). Gary learned of the effort to build a church on the Patterson farm, and made a large contribution to the effort, with one request: it be named for his late daughter, Alberta G. Gary, who had died at the age of five. The full name of the church, then, became "The Alberta G. Gary Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church." In later years James Gary became Postmaster General of the United States (March 1897-April 1898), serving under President William McKinley, and was also known for his elegant home in the Bolton Hill section of Baltimore.
While meetings were held on the land immediately after its donation, the first church building on the site was completed in 1872; the current "new church" was built in 1914. Through a recording error, the name on the Articles of Incorporation in 1894 was given as "Alverda Chapel of the Methodist Episcopal Church." When the "new church" deed was recorded at the Ellicott City Court House on November 2, 1914, this was corrected to read "The Alberta G. Gary Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church."
In the years since the opening of the "new church," the Methodist Episcopal Church has evolved into the United Methodist Church, and the "company mill town" of Guilford has been eclipsed by changes in the textile industry and the creation of the "new town" of Columbia, Maryland. What hasn't changed is the spirit of Alberta G. Gary Memorial United Methodist Church and its devotion to the needs of local communities.