Pine Street Presbyterian Church
In the late 1850’s there was a growing disagreement in religious ideology within the congregation of the English Presbyterian Church, later renamed the Market Square Presbyterian Church. The Market Square Church embraced what was then known as the New School theology. A number of parishioners though embraced the Old School theology and accordingly split from the congregation and formed at first what was named the OS (Old School) Presbyterian Church, then the “Presbyterian Church of Harrisburg” and then finally the Pine Street Presbyterian Church. After having left the English Presbyterian Church of Harrisburg in 1858, the newly formed congregation, which built Pine Street, first met in the Chambers of the Pennsylvania State Senate. Completed in 1860, the limestone-constructed Pine Street Presbyterian Church was designed in the English Gothic style by Harrisburg architect Luther M. Simon. The church was the place of worship for noted Harrisburg families such as the Cameron’s and the McCormick’s and particularly by James McCormick (1801-1870) who spearheaded the organization of the new church and was one of its original Trustees.
Pine Street Presbyterian Church
The Church is particularly remembered through its role during the Civil War when Union troops, stationed in the city during the threatened attack by the Confederates, camped across N. Third Street in Capitol Park and were assisted in their needs by the women of the Church from whom funds were raised to support the Union cause.
Moving into the 20th Century, the church building was further enhanced in a more exuberant expression of the Gothic tradition. In 1926 the renowned New York and Boston architectural firm of Cram and Ferguson reconfigured the sanctuary on the ground floor of the building and raised the roof, creating a striking clerestory space reminiscent of the medieval English church. The vast interior is awe-inspiring through the richly carved woodwork, exposed beams and rafters, beautifully executed collection of stained-glass windows and fine acoustics particularly experienced through the sound of the church’s four manual grand pipe organ, featuring 5,219 pipes.
Many sacred and secular musical performances by nationally and internationally known artists are held here. The Church is distinguished by its Chancel Choir that is the foundation of the music ministry leading worship at the 10:00 am service each Sunday. The choir is composed of volunteers and paid section leaders. In addition, the choir presents an annual Festival of Lessons and Carols service each year with orchestral accompaniment. Participation is known to be a rewarding experience and is open to amateur and professional singers. Also of note is the Church’s Handbell Ensemble.
The neighboring Boyd Building on South Street, which today houses Downtown Daily Bread, Pine Street’s ministry to the homeless and hungry of Harrisburg, was built in 1916. Over past years there have been many activities including bowling, basketball, a summer camp, motion pictures, checkers, an orchestra, glee club, a drum corp. and much more. The Downtown Daily Bread offers a Soup Kitchen with weekday breakfasts and lunch meals, a Day Shelter with cots, computers, phones, staff counselors and many other services.
Banner photo courtesy Jeb Stuart.