Methodism can be said to have reached Armagh in 1767 when John Wesley came to the city and was prevented by the Sovereign from preaching at the Market House. He went instead by the invitation of its owner, to the home of Mr William McGeough at Abbey Street and addressed a large gathering. It was to this house and grounds that John Wesley returned on his many subsequent visits to the city, the last occasion being in 1789. The first recorded venue for meetings was in a house in Thomas Street rented by three ladies. It was described as ‘a humble dwelling’ and ‘almost fronting onto Dobbin Street’. It was therefore appropriate that in 1786 the first Methodist Church, or Chapel, as it was commonly called should have been built on a site on the North side of Abbey Street close to where John Wesley had preached.
James Stuart in his ‘Historical Memoirs of the City of Armagh’ wrote of it as a neat and convienient meeting-house and it served the congregation until 1835 by which time it had become too small to accommodate the increased numbers attending services. Captain WW Algeo laid the first stone of its successor on the 14th September 1835 and it was designed to seat twice as many worshippers and to be easily enlarged should that prove necessary. Surgeon Major Lynn noted in his account that it ‘was so constructed as to admit of the addition of galleries by which the seating capacity might be doubled’.
The Church is still in active use, but was remodelled in 1888; the architect being JJ Phillips of Belfast and the contractor was Collen & Son of Armagh. It was at this time that the elegant façade with its incised lettering and double date plaque was put up. A hall abutting the Church was built in 1859 as a Sabbath and Day School to the designs of WJ Barrie who the same year had made alterations to the Church while the substantial dwelling on the lower side was at on time the Minister’s Manse and below it is a former Primitive Methodist Meeting House. The former Sabbath and Day School are now used as halls and are known as the Lynn Halls after Surgeon Major Lynn, a leading Methodist layperson in the Abbey Street Church.