Leander United Methodist Church began in the mid 1800’s in a town called Bagdad, approximately one mile west of our present site. Bagdad was surveyed in 1854 and built to serve as a halfway station between Fort Groghan in Burnet and Austin. Bagdad Road was first an Indian trail, then a cattle driver’s trail and a military road.
Around 1860, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South was organized in Bagdad and was served largely by missionaries and local preachers. Services were first help in a log school house that stood near the old well just west of Bagdad Cemetery. Later, when the new stone Masonic Lodge was erected, services were held there until the church was built.
In 1877 the church trustees purchased 26 1/2 acres for $350. Two years later, 12 additional acres of adjoining land was given to the church. The church building was completed at a cost of $1,284.29 and was dedicated on July 8, 1979 by Dr. F. A. Mood, President of Southwestern University.
Why was the church moved from Bagdad to Leander? Because the merchants of Bagdad refused the Austin and Northwestern Railroad Company’s offer of $1,000 to build the railroad through Bagdad. The railroad surveyed the townsite of Leander in 1882 and completed the railroad in 1884. Leander was named in honor of Leander “Catfish” Brown who worked for the railroad.
Property owners began selling their lots along the railroad right of way and, by the summer of 1882, some Bagdad merchants moved to Leander. Within a short time, Bagdad was a ghost town.
On September 5, 2010, Leander United Methodist Church celebrated its 150th anniversary. In 2013 the sanctuary was renovated in addition to the area between the sanctuary and fellowship hall.