On Sunday, February 28, I attended a service at the First Presbyterian Church on Orange Street. I church was still new to me and I was still very unfamiliar with the history and any subject matter that I would like to further research. I went to the eleven o’clock service and found it very welcoming, fun, and low key, which was nice. It was very well attended. At first glance I noticed many older couples, but as time progressed, I saw many children and families. What I enjoyed most of the service was the integration with the congregation, families, and especially children. Though it was in my eyes a “low-key” service, it was very well done and educational, with many apparent and wonderful traditions. I was lucky enough to be there on a day where two baptisms occurred and what I enjoyed most about this was, not only was it my first witness of a baptism that I can remember, but that all of the children were brought forward to watch closely and give a final prayer for the newly baptized kids. What I also noticed about this service was how modern it was. I though it was very interesting that the church had an elaborate power point presentation explaining all of the churches weekly activities and future missions. I thought this was a great addition. Though I am not a regular church attendee, I found it nice and relaxing to be in this service because of the welcome and hospitality of the other members. I noticed that the giving of peace seemed much longer then what I am used to and many members came over to me, which I thought was very nice. At the end of the service, I was able to spend a few minutes speaking with the associate pastor, and during those few minutes, many congregation members were very gracious and introduced themselves to me and were very curious about my project. I am looking forward to spending more time learning about the church and getting to known its congregation.
This past week, I was able to spend a considerable amount of time at the First Presbyterian Church on Orange Street with the associate pastor, Don Hackett. I was lucky enough to have a personal connection with Don as he was a good friend of my father’s growing up. I first met Don the week before at a service that I went to at the church. Coincidentally, he picked me out of the crowd and knew that I was my father’s son. We spoke briefly about the course that I was taking and what my interest in the church was and if he would be able to help me out. It seemed as though he was very interested and proud of his church’s history and traditions. Once I set up a time for us to meet and sit down to ask more specific questions about the church and after I did some more research of my own about the architecture and history, I learned a lot during the two hours we spent together. He seemed very excited and proud to show me his church and knew so much about the churches history, as well as the many activities and purposes the church has now. I found it very interesting that the church is a 24/7 operation. Not only is it a working church with services throughout the week, they also offer daily daycare, many opportunities for children throughout the week days and weekends, and other services for Lancaster’s community. Don showed me every part of the church imaginable. It was massive. You could definitely get lost in the place.
From this meeting, I was able to cement some of the historical facts that I had read about. I learned that their was an initial structure, but then torn down to create the current structure where the steeple is, then a separate structure was built as a gathering / learning area, and then a third structure was built to house the pastor. Unfortunately, the third structure only held its purpose for a few years, and was later turned into a Sunday school. Not until about the 1970’s were all three structures integrated. It was very interesting to see the traces of the exterior structures within the building, connected in places with hallways and rooms. What I found most interesting were the stained glass windows. From the service that I attended, I noticed their grandness and number. Members of the congregation even mentioned to me how special and rare they were to the church. Not until my tour with Don did I learn that all of the windows on the left side of the sanctuary are lit by fluorescent lights since there is no natural light coming from that direction. I plan on going back for another visit to meet with a member of the church who is in charge of their own historical documents. This week I plan on going back to the Historical Society of Lancaster to learn more about my church and focus in on my topic of stained glass windows of the church.
Unfortunately due to family emergency I was unable to meet with any persons, however I was able to contact both the resident scholar and historian of Holy Trinity Lutheran and start to set up meetings in order to gain information from both people. I am planning another trip to the church for further visual documentation and a meeting with the historian to gain access to knowledge in paper in via verbal communication. I was able to discover the designer of the pulpit, Samuel Sloan and was informed that he was also the designer of the Fulton Theater and Lancaster Court House, which are in close proximity to the church. My progress has somewhat slowed this week however after spring break with the interviews take place my project will take leaps and bounds.
Over the past week I have had the opportunity to look at some resources for background information about cemeteries. There’s actually a lot of information on cemeteries and the meaning behind the design and planning. I have looked at the Klein & Diller research on St. James Episcopal Church, from 1744-1944, to learn about the history of the church graveyard. This is one of the few remaining graveyards attached to a church in the downtown area. I also learned that a few tombs were covered by an expansion to the church structure and the gravestones were then moved inside the church. I found another resource that discussed the Lancaster Cemetery and the Woodward Hill Cemetery with a focus on the preservation of these spaces. Lancaster Cemetery has a really unique layout and it is interesting to compare this design with St. James graveyard, not only based on size but also based on the planning components used. Another book which I found interesting was The Architecture of Death; the creation of the cemetery is traced in Paris from the 18th century and the changes are also shown in the layout of each space and how it connects to the urban area. The use of highly ornamented monuments and other structural walls and fences were important to cemeteries in Paris, such as the Cemetery of the Holy Innocents. I believe that this information will enable me to have a better understanding of the creation of cemeteries and the meaning of this type of space among various people and places.
I am also working with a few students in the class to trace the changes within Lancaster City from 1850 to 1930. We will be looking at maps from each time period to track the differences and then draw conclusions for our individual research questions. I will be looking at how the graveyards within the city moved to the outskirts of the area and more towards the suburbs. I think that this project will uncover a lot of interesting questions and problems with the lack of preservation for sacred spaces.
For my interview aspect of my research, I have been in contact with a few people who specialize in urban and suburban planning within Lancaster City so I will look at how they view the differences in the locations of cemeteries over time and hopefully provide some insight in order to produce a better understanding of these movements. I am hoping to speak with someone at the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County because I believe that this will also be another helpful contact within the city.
Map of Lancaster Cemetery within the downtown area from Lancaster County Atlas,1875
Plan of Woodward Hill Cemetery
This past week I was able to research a great deal of background information on St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (located at 221 West Orange Street), most of which cannot be found on any internet sources. This information does not revolve simply around this particular church, but also inforporates a great deal about the development of Lancaster churches as a whole.
Through the Pennsylvanian Dutchman from 1956, I found information on some potential influences on the city of Lancaster. One such influence is from England through the city of Philadelphia. Literature and patterns were absorbed in Philadelphia from England, and were transmitted throughout surrounding cities. This is thought to have caused many new citites to look like those from England.
In addition, I was able to find a more complete history on the construction of St. John’s. In particular, what stood out to me was the debt of $6,000 that the congregation struggled with for ten years, finally being removed in 1865. Given that the stone facing was added to the church a little while afterwards, I am curious as to how this debt came about, and if adding on the stone front was meant to represent the wealth of the church once the debt had been paid off.
From this weeks research I have developed a set of questions that I would like to explore and answer throughout my paper based on an idea found in the Pennsylvanian Dutchman that plain sects often lacked any aesthetic charm and reflected a more practical style. As a result, I was wondering: Does this imply that more elaborate churches with a greater aesthetic value had other intentions or motives? What was the point in such aesthetics? Could elaborate aesthetics become distracting? Does their original intention change with modernization? I think trying to find an insight into some of these questions will help in a better understanding of what drove St. John’s to develop the stone-faced front. Other questions that I have been looking into are as follows: Did the idea for the stone front come from Italian gothic building or the use of the stone in other churches of the area? What about price? Was stone more expensive than brick? If so is that why it was only used in the front?
Finally, I am looking to get in touch with the priest of the church to find someone who I can conduct an interview with to get a better insight into the history of the church. I would also like to discuss with him, either developing a survey on my own that could be handed out to members of the congregation on their interpretation of the stone-faced building and how it might alter their experiences at St. John’s, or if it would be possible for him to put me in touch with a few key members of the congregation and discuss this idea with them in an interview.
After our visit to the Lancaster Historical Society I had found myself back at the drawing board asking myself what do I want to research? The Historical Society had a lot more information on the Otterbein United Methodist church and I had returned there for a second visit to collect pictures of the blueprints and a copy of the manual of the materials that were to be used for the building. The most interesting information that I had seen was the blueprints of the Church that were drawn by architect George E. Savage. These drawings that are posted below really sparked my interest in learning more about the architecture and architect and less about the stained glass windows. Due to the new research that I have found, my research question has changed. I will now be looking at the biography of the life of architect George E. Savage. Savage is a Philadelphia architect that has produced over 300 buildings, however as of now we only seem to have his blueprints from the Otterbein Methodist Church and the rest have yet to be found. After doing the rest of my research I hope to answer the questions: Where are the rest of Savage’s Drawings and is there a list of all 300 buildings that he had worked on? Did his son inherit the drawings, and if so who inherited the drawings after his son had passed away? How far can we trace back the Savage family and are there any relatives today that will be willing to talk about the life of their ancestors?
I have started to research these questions and so far I am at a standstill until I receive a handful of biographical resources through interlibrary loan. I have submitted requests for about 5 journals that will hopefully jump-start my research again. As of now the list of buildings that George E. Savage has created consists of about 19 places of worship including a few schools. A list of these places can be found at the link below:
As it pertains to my interview at the Church, I will be interviewing the assistant to the historian/archivist at Otterbein Methodist Church. Some information that I hope to obtain from the interview consists of a background on the architecture of the church, any information the church has on the architect George E. Savage, did the church donate the blueprints of their church to the historical society, and are there any other plans or drawings of the church that still remain in their archives.
Gallery of about 25% of the blueprints that the Lancaster Historical Society has in archives:
Since last class, I noticed some irregularities within the texts I’d found on my church and discovered that some of my information was for the St. James Episcopal Church and some for the St. James African Church. Abandoning the irrelevant material, I’m now focusing entirely on the St. James African Church, or Bethel A.M.E. Church. Despite losing some of my textual data, I still have some great photos that I was able to locate at the Historical Society, capturing different religious and matrimonial services from earlier decades. Additionally, I have contacted the church staff and eagerly await to hear from them. As indicated by their website (http://www.bethelamelancaster.org/index.html) the church fervently embraces its history and the church maintains comprehensive documentation of its’ narrative.
Next, I visited the Bethel A.M.E. Church, photographing the church building, it’s cultural center, 2 cemeteries, and surrounding area. Primarily in a residential area, the neighborhood is slightly more precarious, compared to many of the churches found near the heart of downtown. However, with that said, the church clearly has strong ties to the community. The church has existed at this location for centuries, as indicated by several of the tombstones in the cemetery, many of which date back to the pre-Civil War period. While one cemetery sits next to the church, the other is situated next to the cultural center, thereby by forming an “L” shape. Included in the plots next to the church are veterans of the Civil War, marked by American flags and shields documenting their years of service.
Finally, since I am no longer looking at St. James Episcopal, I can’t exactly study aspects of its school as my research focus. Instead, my project will primarily concentrate on Bethel A.M.E.’s cemeteries. While many times dismissed, the burial grounds of a structure provide invaluable information. Existing as long as the church itself, the cemeteries document a visible chronological time line of the members, including developing lifespans, religious services, and early on the lack of secondary options due to racial divisions. So much can be learned from these two spaces and I look forward to studying them further.