The City of Cumberland and the Cumberland Economic Development Corporation, an instrumentality of City government, plan to demolish portions of the historic Rolling Mill neighborhood to build incompatible and economically unsustainable low-density sprawl. Proponents of demolition have suggested that the buildings are not historic; so in an effort to better understand what may be lost, we’ll be sharing short stories about many of these threatened properties.


Kingsley Methodist Church was started in 1870 at a site at Oldtown Road and Gay Street and was known as Kingsley Chapel. A committee from the Centre Street Methodist Church selected the site. In 1882 a lot was purchased on Williams Street. The cornerstone was laid in 1883. The church was finished and dedicated June 22, 1884. The historic brick chapel at 248 Williams Street with its shingle tower is Italianate in style. It had two subsequent additions to the west – an early-20th century Italianate addition in the middle and a c.1972 modern addition west of that.


The church building is historically significant as the site of neighborhood activities for well over a century. Kingsley Methodist Church was established within the Rolling Mill neighborhood to meet the religious needs of the growing railroad industry after the establishment of the rolling mill. Kingsley Methodist Church even had a great influence on the Methodist Churches of LaVale. Until the late 1940s and early 1950s the area which now comprises the community of LaVale was divided into two sections, Narrows Park and LaVale. Both areas were served by the Park Place Methodist Church which was an outstation of the Kingsley Methodist Church in Cumberland.

Today, 132 years after its completion, the building still serves as an active church, the Friendship Haven Church.


Unfortunately, the demolition plans for this neighborhood appear to extend to this historic church as well. The image below highlights the approximate location of the church on plans for the area post-demolition. Where the church once stood, the plan calls for new construction and surface parking.


To read more about the history of this church building and other historic Rolling Mill buildings, please see the Rolling Mill/Maryland Avenue Inventory Form for State Historic Sites Survey prepared by the Maryland Historical Trust.

Property history prepared by Christopher Stevens.