Smethport's Magnificant St. Lukes Episcopal Church
1892: Henry Hamlin's Crown Jewel Gift to Smethport

photo credit: R.C. Gleason Collection

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St. Luke's Consecrated
McKean County Miner
Smethport Pa,  Sept. 16, 1892

The St. Luke's Church, designed by W. Halsey Wood, is of the 14th century English Gothic style of architecture, with low pitched roofs covering the nave and transept. The latter, which forms a conspicuous break in the southern wall of the nave is to be used as a chapel, called St. Margaret's, has a high clerestory and a large window of richly colored glass placed well up in the gable end.  At the south east corner of the building is placed a square battemented tower, 17x17 feet in width, walls 2 1/2 feet thick.  There are two porches, the one in the tower measuring 9x10 feet, the other at the west end 10x12feet.
Besides the central passage-way, there are two aisles on the north and south sides of the church, with massive brick columns supporting the arches, also of brick, between the aisles and the nave.  The clerestory windows are placed up from the point of the nave arches and afford a quaint bit of coloring to the the richly tinted glass which is set deep into thick brick jambs.  The altar and reredos are raised to a proper height at the east end of the church, set out from the wall, and built in connection with a screen forming an  ambulatory at the back and a passage way from the yestries which are placed on the right and left  of the chancel.  The screen is built of cream colored brick divided into deep gothic panels.  The altar and reredos are of cain stone and are strictly in accordance with the style of the building.  The front of the altar, which is 9 feet 3 inches long, is divided into three recessed arched panels, almost as deep as the altar is wide.  The interior is filled with stone, well cemented, so that it is in fact a solid mass of stone.  The mensa or altar slab is one piece of pure white marble.  The reredos is also of Caen stone formed in 3 niches, surmounted by a delicately carried canopy, which is very beautiful.

The altar and reredos were given as a memorial, the steps of light colored Tennessee marble bearing the following inscription:  "To the Glory of God. In memory of Orlo James Hamlin and Orra Lucinda Hamlin."  The credence table and sedalia seats are built into the wall by means of arches and are made a prominent feature of the interior of the church.  All the walls are plastered and painted with soft golden colors ( exceptthose of the aisles which are olive) in broad tints without stenciling; while the door and window jambs and string courses are built solid of cream colored brick.  The massive roof timbers are bolted together with simplicity, while the ceilings throughout are of yellow pine.

The flooring under the seats is of oak.  The central passage-way, the aisles, the choir and sanctuary are tiled.  The aisles are filled with cream colored tile with a border  of red and black.  The tilling of the choir  and sanctuary is of the same colors, but laid in rich patterns of ecclesiastical form.  A beautiful wood screen of oak, divides the nave from the chancel.  The choir stalls and pews are also of oak.  Standing neat the west door is a large, handsome Font of Caen stone, the cover of which is of oak and brass; cut in the base of the Font is the following inscription: :In loving memory of Rachel Niles and Ada, children of D.C. and Ada M. Young."

There are many other offerings, indeed most of the furnishings of the church are gifts from members of the parish, and from others having strong ties of early association with St. Luke's.  A full list will be given later.  No one could fail to notice the entire harmony existing between the building and its furnishments, which is owing to the fact that almost everything placed in the church was manufactured from special designs prepared by the noted architect to whose professional skill not only St. Luke's parish but every citizen of smethport, is indebted for the possession of a gem of a building a perfect specimen of an English Gothic Church.  The Character of the church can be fitly expressed in three words:  Solidity, simplicity, dignity.

To Hon. Henry Hamlin, we take this occasion to express the gratitude of the entire people of smethport irrespective of religious predilections, for having erected this magnificent Church edifice.  The money that Judge Hamlin has so lavishly appropriated within the past few years in beautifying out town, is appreciated much more by the citizens than he realizes.  All wish him and his family many blessings for the interest they have taken in the common welfare and happiness of the people.
McKean County Miner Smethport Pa,  Sept. 16, 1892

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
First Services of the Episcopal Church of Smethport were held in 1842 with only three members.  Irregular services were held until 1872, when Bishop Kerfoot established a mission, with an executive committee of John C. Hamlin, Philetus Ford, J. C.  Backus, and D. C. Young.  There were 24 initial communicants.
In 1867 Mrs. John C. Hamlin and Mrs. Henry Hamlin organized the first community Sunday school to be held in Smethport.  More than 100 attended these ecumenical classes, which continued until various churches started their own.
In 1879 a parish named Saint Luke’s was established and incorporated.  The Rev. Hugh Q. Miller retired in 1880, to be followed by the Rev. John Huber McCandless.  The first church was erected and consecrated August 21, 1881, and was located on N. Fulton Street.  That structure serves as the Lutheran Church today.  In 1885 Rev. McCandless married Henry Hamlin’s second daughter, Emma Marion of Smethport.
By 1890 the church had grown to 60 families, 160 communicants and 300 members by baptism.  Ground was broken for a new stone structure located at Church Street on Main in May 1891 and consecrated in September 1892.  The new church, designed by famed architect William Halsey Wood, was funded almost entirely by Henry Hamlin.  The Parish Hall was built in 1901-1902 and was opened for use on Easter Day, 1902.

St. Luke's is currently being organized by BECOMM, as the parish is inbetween rectors.

Noted Clergyman to Preach at St. Luke’s Church
Rev. Wm. Porkess, D.D., of Wilkinsburg Lenten Guest Speaker

McKean County Democrat
March 16, 1944

The Rev. William Porkess, D.D., rector of St. Steven’s church, Wilkinsburg, PA, will be the special Lenten guest preacher at St. Luke’s Episcopal church Friday evening, March 17, at 7:30 o’clock. The service will be Choral Evensong. “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”, a hymn written by St. Patrick, will be sung, it being St. Patrick’s Day.

Dr. Porkess is a nationally known clergyman of the Episcopal Church. He has been recto of St. Stephen’s parish, Wilkinsburg, for twenty-five years and on March 5 had special anniversary services. During this time five men have gone into ministry and one into the la Brotherhood of St. Barnabas, and another young man will be ordained soon. Wilkinsburg adjoins Pittsburgh on the East, and St. Stephen’s parish has 1,400 communicants and is the second largest parish numerically in the Pittsburgh diocese, of which Dr. Porkess is president of the standing committee and chairman of the department of Christian Education. He has been a delegate to four General Conventions of the Church and is the author of a number of church handbooks and tracts. He was born in England. He has been president of the Pittsburgh Ministerial Association and the Wilkinsburg Ministerial Association. He is an active Rotarian and is chaplain of the Wilkinsburg Rotary club.

The visiting rector will visit the Rev. Rodney F. Cobb at St. Luke’s rectory from Friday afternoon until Saturday afternoon. They will be dinner guests Friday evening before the service of the Very Rev. Dean and Mrs. W.E. Van Dyke.

A cordial invitation is extended to the people of Smethport to hear this distinguished clergyman at St. Luke’s church Friday evening at 7:30 o’clock.

St. Luke's Episcopal Church 2005

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