One of Philipsburg’s greatest treasures is St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, completed by local builder Benjamin Franklin Morgan in September of 1913.
The Norman-style church, with its fortress-like bell tower, is one of the last and greatest works of the renowned architectural firm of Henry Martyn Congdon and son, Herbert Wheaton Congdon of New York, who in more than 75 years of design (1857-1922), produced plans for more than 60 Episcopal churches, mostly in the northeastern United States.
In honor of St. Paul’s 100th anniversary, the Philipsburg Historical Foundation will hold its annual dinner in the Parish Hall of the church the evening of Oct. 10. The featured speaker will be Dr. Eleanor Congdon, professor of medieval history at Ohio State Youngstown, who is the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of the architects. With her background in medieval studies at Cambridge, Congdon is uniquely qualified to interpret the designs of her illustrious forbears, who built largely in Gothic and Romanesque revival styles. With support from her university and from various grants, she is now working on a book about the Congdon architectural firm, and has started a huge project to have all their churches put on the National Register of Historic Places.
“We’re so fortunate to have Eleanor Congdon studying the architectural history of St. Paul’s,” said Emily Gette-Doyle, PHF president. “Even before finding financial support for her project, she spent a week in Philipsburg right after Christmas of 2009, photographing and digitizing all of the church’s vestry and building committee minutes, plus their complete set of the architects’ linen drawings, the set that had been used by Mr. Morgan in construction. Since then she has become a great friend of the congregation, visiting and speaking often, and even singing in the choir at Christmastime.”
“We’re expecting a wonderful presentation,” added Gette-Doyle. “Dr. Congdon has recently discovered a beautiful set of around three dozen glass plate negatives taken by Herbert Wheaton Congdon when the church was brand new, and these will feature prominently in her illustrated talk. It’s to be noted that building of the church involved a large community effort, with local sandstone hauled by horse and wagon from the quarry in Gearhartville, and much of the stonework done by Italian masons from the Curwensville area. Miners and their families donated generously, and there are many memorials in St. Paul’s to noted Philipsburg figures such as Fr. Francis Leclerc and Gen. Reuben C. Hale.”
Anyone interested in Philipsburg history and architecture is urged to show support for this grand birthday party. Tickets for the dinner at $25 each are on sale now, and should be purchased no later than Oct. 5. For more information or tickets, please call Emily at 814-342-3620 or email email@example.com.