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The reddish brick building here on the corner is West Park United Methodist Church. Its congregation was initially known as West Park Northeast Chapel of Moberly, established in 1904 as a mission church for Moberly’s downtown Methodist Church. This congregation erected a single-story brick building here around 1910. After that was destroyed in a fire eight years later, plans began immediately to build the church you see today. This church is what is known as an Akron Plan building. The outer rooms surround the rear auditorium in a circular fashion. The configuration of the rooms can be changed with movable partition walls. The Akron Plan was designed to improve the way that churches taught Sunday school. The Sunday school movement originated in Europe during the Industrial Revolution, when churches took on the task of educating children. The earliest documented Sunday school was held in 1780 at St. Mary le Crypt Church in Gloucester. Initially, Sunday schools were exactly that: schools that taught children, particularly the underprivileged, how to read and write. Up until the 1860s, Sunday school classes were held for children of all ages in a single room. The Akron Plan provided spaces for individualized learning. The earliest example of it in the United States is believed to be the First Methodist Church in Akron, Ohio--hence the name. That church was constructed in 1867. Its outer rooms ringing the auditorium were originally used as Sunday school classrooms. The Akron design became very popular in Methodist churches, which perpetuated Ohio’s example to support the church’s growing interest in Sunday schools. Other Protestant congregations soon followed suit and, by the early 1910s, more than 50% of Protestant churches nationwide were using the Akron Plan for their new buildings. Once public schools became established, Sunday schools narrowed their focus to religious education. This change eliminated the need for multiple classrooms, and the Akron Plan rapidly began to lose favor in church design. While original Akron Plan churches intended that these outer rooms be used as Sunday school classrooms, they evolved to housing pastors’ offices, libraries, meeting areas, and restrooms. Although West Park United Methodist Church may not have served in the earliest tradition of Sunday schools--teaching children to read and write--the church did support local residents in many ways. The building’s Akron Plan has provided space for the church’s role as a community center, hosting dinners, activity clubs, holiday events, and public meetings.