St. Peter's Church, shortly after the first service on Sept. 4, 1761.

Nothing Less Than a New Church

The Rev. Dr. Richard Jenney was not eager to face the situation some of the members of his parish who lived at the southern edge of Philadelphia were creating.

Yet, Dr. Jenney informed the vestry at a meeting on March 19, 1753, that "some gentlemen from the south end of the city had acquainted him of their intention to build a new church, desiring his opinion and encouragement." The vestry at its next meeting, March 21, recommended that Dr. Jenney answer the gentlemen, which he did. This, so far as it is known, was the first movement toward the building of St. Peter's Church.

Dr. Jenney was worried about the effects of the departure of so many prosperous parishioners, not least among them merchant and mayor William Plumsted, on the pew-rent income of Christ Church and did not embrace the idea.

The residents of what is called Society Hill were not dismayed, however, and happened to find a tract between Second and Fourth Streets, on the south edge of Pine Street, owned by Proprietors Thomas and Richard Penn (by now Anglicans, not Quakers), suitable for a church and graveyard.

The men, 86 of them, petitioned the Penns on Aug. 1, 1754, asking for a grant of 104 feet of the part of the lot that lay on the west side of Third Street for the church and its yard.

 

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A Walk through History

1682 Philadelphia is founded by William Penn.

1695 Christ Church is organized as a condition of the Royal Charter.

1744 The present Christ Church is completed at Second and Market Streets.

1753 Dr. Robert Jenney asked for permission to build a church in the southern end of the city.

August 1754 The proprietors are petitioned for the donation of a lot at Third and Pine Streets as a site for the church.

Sept. 21, 1758 Cornerstone is laid for the church.

Sept. 4, 1761 The first service at St. Peter's, with the sermon preached by the Rev. William Smith, provost of the College of Pennsylvania.

Jan. 2, 1762 Dr. Jenney, rector of the two churches, dies.

1762 The Rev. Richard Peters becomes rector of the United Churches.

1764 The pulpit, reading desk and chancel rail are complete.

1764 The church's first organ, built by the German Philip Feyring, is installed in the north gallery of the church.

1765 The churches receive a charter of incorporation from the Proprietors (St. James, at Seventh and Market Streets, is added in 1809 and separates in 1828); a lottery is proposed to raise the £1,500 needed to finish the building.

1768 The first break-in at St. Peter's is reported. The vestry votes to repair the windows.

Lottery ticket to pay off the debt