The 150th Anniversary of Union's Current Building
Well, you probably thought you had endured the last of my history lessons when we finished the Bicentennial last year. You would be wrong. Now we are working backwards. We will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the construction of THIS building in 2019. Why am I talking about this 2 years early? Let me give you a little background and perspective on this event.
The year was 1865. In July of 1865 the US Secret Service was initiated. Unfortunately, it was 3 months too late for Abraham Lincoln. Union Presbyterian Church was entering its 50th year in the little stone building located in the parking lot across the road from where we are today.
Evangelist Johnathon Cross of Baltimore held a revival service at Union and received 135 people into membership on the spot by “confession of faith”. At the start of the Civil War, some members of Union had left and formed the “Free Presbyterian Church of Colerain” at Andrews Bridge because they felt the Presbyterian Church had not taken a strong enough stand against slavery. By 1867 many of these members started working their way back to Union. It was becoming increasingly clear that this large influx of new members would require a much larger building. Therefore, in 1867, 150 years ago, plans were started to build a new structure on the other side of the road.
Calvin Stewart was the pastor at the time, having started in 1858, and would serve 32 years, the longest ever of any Union minister. The session and trustees of the time are many of the names we discussed during the 200th anniversary history lessons; Hogg, Patterson, Morrison, Ferguson, Hastings and Holmes.
The new building would be 85' X 55” with a 20-foot ceiling. This is the downstairs of the building we are in today. Construction would start in 1868. During 1868, two of Pennsylvania's most famous people would die, James Buchanan and Thaddeus Stevens. The new building would serve as the Sanctuary for 30 years until the construction and dedication of this room we are currently in. in 1899. I will, hopefully, be back on August 30th, 2019 for the 150th anniversary of the dedication.
I will wrap this up by giving you a historical perspective on how old the building is: Wyoming was still a territory. The golden spike in the transcontinental railroad would be driven in 1869 and Jesse James was about to rob his first Bank!!!