The First Methodist Church is a fine extant representative of four major Gothic Revival churches that once stood in downtown Burlington. This one was built during the lumber boom of the 1860s on the site of the original Methodist Church of 1834. Having outgrown that building, the congregation commissioned a new church from Esty of Framing-ham, Massachusetts, a specialist in Gothic Revival churches and university structures. Esty produced a steeply roofed rectangular building with a substantial, spire-capped entrance tower marking its prominent corner site and steeply pitched dormers on the roof providing light to the interior. The windows of the nave and the large figural wheel window of the main facade by J. M. Cook of Boston comprise the oldest and most elaborate suite of stained glass in the city.
The church is constructed of local redstone, enlivened by polychrome buttresses, belt courses, copings, and round-arched window surrounds of gray Isle La Motte limestone. The fine masonry is the work of Michael McGinn, builder as well for the first Roman Catholic Cathedral (see CH6). Interior arcades are carried on cast-iron columns from Burlington's W. H. Brink Foundry, which was the largest in Vermont. The wooden casings of the columns and the wood ceiling are the work of Elmore Johnson, who came to Burlington from Reading, Massachusetts, in the early 1860s. He became a leading architect-builder in the city with more than fifty major buildings to his credit.