Welcome to Normandy. We believe our church building gives us a unique setting for our worship services, committee meetings, social gatherings, and other activities. As you may have guessed by looking at it, there is a story behind the construction of the original building, its eventual conversion into a church facility, and its expansion into the facility you see today. The church’s particular physical setting makes us feel that God’s house is a real home. Because of its unique character there is a family warmth not felt in a more traditional church. Many who come out of curiosity “to look” have felt the warmth of a friendly fellowship and have returned to worship with us.
Normandy Farms and the Grant Estate
The oldest part of Normandy’s current church building was originally the private home of Richard H. Grant (1878 – 1957), one of Dayton’s outstanding citizens and businessmen. The house was constructed in 1927-30, at a cost of nearly $1 million. The home was the centerpiece of nearly 800 acres acquired by Mr. Grant that eventually became known as Normandy Farms, a working farm that raised a variety of livestock and crops and contained a working dairy.
The Grants chose Medieval English Manor style for their new home. The two-story tower and staircase with the massive chandelier add historical elegance to the three-story building with its thirty-eight rooms consisting of a main section and two wings.
The eight-inch thick concrete floors, eighteen-inch thick outer walls, and six-inch thick concrete roof give the house great stability. It was literally built to last for the ages. A slate roof and leaden drainpipes also show great attention to durability and quality. The eleven sculptured marble fireplaces, the massive entrance gates, many of the doors, and the stained glass window plaques were all purchased in Europe. The beautifully hand carved old wood paneling in the main hall and library was imported from England and dates back to 1603. Other beautiful furnishings can be seen throughout the building.
Normandy Evangelical United Brethren Church
As Mr. Grant’s health was failing in 1955, he decided to sell his home. In July 1955, Normandy Farms house became Normandy Evangelical United Brethren Church when the Ohio Miami Conference of the Evangelical United Brethren Church purchased it. The price of the building, plus a seven-room gatehouse, a swimming pool, and approximately 15 acres, was $125,000.
The Grant living room was the original sanctuary and now serves as Normandy’s chapel. In 1957, Mr. Grant’s funeral took place in this room. On June 2, 1963, Normandy dedicated a new octagonal multi- purpose building that included a meeting space, a new kitchen, and classrooms, with the idea of this becoming a Fellowship Hall in the future when a larger sanctuary would be needed for the church’s growing membership. The meeting space served as the sanctuary from 1963 through 1996.
Normandy United Methodist Church
In April 1968, the merger of the Methodist Church with the Evangelical United Brethren Church took place. At that time the name was changed to Normandy United Methodist Church.
In 1984, the Normandy Farms house was placed on The National Register of Historic Buildings.
As a result of the growing membership, ground breaking ceremonies for the current 375-seat main sanctuary took place on March 24, 1996. The new sanctuary was consecrated on January 12, 1997. A large tower resembling the one on the original Grant building is the focal point of the new structure. In order to preserve the old mansion and its outer walls, the main sanctuary is connected to the rest of the building by a long hallway that extends from the welcome center to the hallway leading into the Fellowship Hall and the rest of the Grant building.
Today, the former sleeping quarters on the second floor of the Grant building serve as Church offices for the pastors and staff, Sunday School classes, and meetings rooms. The principal main floor rooms of the Grant building now consist of the Music Room used for choir practice, meetings and special events; the Loggia used for adult Sunday School and weekly meetings; the Library used for reading, reflection, Sunday School and meetings; and the Chapel used occasionally for worship services, weddings, and funerals. The lower level of the Grant building opens to the side yard and contains our youth area (the Ship room), a classroom and a former billiard room, a squash court (now unused), and a large furnace and utilities room. All in all, we are able to make good use of the Grant building’s facilities even if it is sometimes confusing to find your way around.
In 2010, we completed a major renovation of the Fellowship Hall, the Nursery, the elementary Sunday School classrooms, and the downstairs reception office. A more accessible rear entrance to the facility and an elevator were added to give everyone greater access to more parts of the building.