The City of Williamsport lit up this past weekend for the 23rd Annual Victorian Christmas Eve – a celebration of the historic homes, churches, sites and museums of Williamsport.
The Sunday Church Tour explored eight churches across the city.
Millionaire’s Row at Trinity Episcopal Church
Construction originated at Trinity Episcopal Church in 1871. The land, purchased by Peter Herdic, cost $1 million at the time.
Justice Maynard contributed to the church by purchasing the chimes and clock of Westminster, and later, the rector of the church.
English Gothic architecture has stones quarried from Central PA’s Bald Eagle Mountain. Stained glass windows from Tiffany Glass, British Glass, and Philadelphia Glass create an eye-catching view from inside the church.
The first service was held on Christmas Day 1875.
Trinity Episcopal Church was one of several places targeted in 1977 by arsonists who destroyed the Pine Street United Methodist Church.
Trinity Episcopal managed to avoid complete destruction because a neighbor saw the fire towards the back of the building and only the main church fire burning. The original pipe hardware survived the fire but has since been replaced due to its use over time. The stained-glass windows had to be dismantled and replaced piece by piece.
Central Presbyterian Covenant
The Central Presbyterian Covenant was built in 1910. The Richardsonian/Romanesque style building contains both marble and granite quarried from the Avondale quarry outside Philadelphia.
Inside the church, a stained-glass window depicts Gutenberg’s printing press printing the Bible for Christians to read. Within this window is an icon representing Trinity Episcopal Church across the street.
Another stained-glass window depicts John Wycliffe, who translated the Bible from Latin into English so that people could read it. Upon looking closely at the window, an icon representing the Annunciation, or St. Joseph’s Workers’ Church, appears.
The central Presbyterian covenant placed these two symbols within its east and west windows to symbolize the relationship between the three churches.
Anyone who married in the Central Presbyterian era likely witnessed, on the way out of the church, a large stained-glass window above the choir loft depicting Jesus surrounded by his disciples.
Church of St. Joseph the Workers
This Romanesque church was built in 1886 by Amos Wagner on land donated by Peter Herdecke. St.
The Congregation of St. Joseph is sometimes referred to as the Annunciation, and it comes from the emergence of the Mater Dolorosa, Holy Rosary, and Visa churches. Currently, members of the church are working to replace pew covers, carpets and even painting in order to maintain its beautiful atmosphere.
First Baptist Church
Now home to the City Alliance Church (established 2012), the First Baptist church originated in 1854 inside a small room in Williamsport Court House.
The congregation has accepted many donations made by Peter Herdic. Amanda Herdic and her father, Foster Taylor, were two of the original sixteen devotees. The church was initially a small white log building constructed by Eber Culver.
As Williamsport grew, so did the First Baptist Church, purchasing two parcels of land to the north of the original building. Plans for a new chapel were completed in 1894.
However, the floods of 1889 and 1894 caused severe damage to the wooden floors and columns, which led to its demolition. The new church was completed in 1911 and dedicated in 1914.
After some renovations over the years, the First Baptist Church became the home of the City Alliance Church in September 2015. Linking the church to the history of Williamsport, the current abutments are built from the old Market Street Bridge.
Community Center for Christ Worship
Originally known as Covenant Church and later St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Christ Church is home to the largest expanse of Tiffany stained glass windows in north central Pennsylvania. The structure is made of limestone and has a massive central tower.
Episcopal Church of Christ
Christ Episcopal Church, the oldest Episcopal church in the city, was originally built in 1841 and located on Third Street, now the site of New Testament Church.
In 1869, the new Christ Episcopal Church was completed in time for the first service to be held on Christmas Day 1869. One can see the original Tiffany stained glass windows at the back of this Norman Gothic building.
Originally, there were gas lights throughout the church, which have since been replaced by electric ones. There was a period of time when one could hear church bells from the tower over five miles around the Williamsport area. In 1930, the cross at the top of the church was struck by lightning.
Christ Episcopal Church has a well used food bank just outside the Mulberry Street entrance. Should anyone wish to make a donation, the church requests that they call ahead at 570-322-8160 to ensure that someone is available to accept the donation.
First United Methodist Church
The First United Methodist Church or “The First Church” was originally known as the First United Evangelical Church. Construction of the first church began in 1920 but hit a snag in 1921: the Great Depression.
The congregation held firmly to their faith and decided to continue the construction, which finished in 1924. The first church was built of Mt Airy North Carolina granite and featured elegant stained glass windows from a company in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
American Rescue Workers Community Church
The Gothic-style church was built in 1885 by the Reformed Church of St. John. In 1977, it was modernized to serve as a homeless shelter. The interior consists of vaulted ceilings with plaster beams, and several stained-glass windows.