FAITH IN ACTION FOR 250 YEARS

A LOOK INSIDE THE BOOK

Smith’s design for the interior of St. Peter’s speaks to the evangelical fervor of the Great Awakening that was sweeping through the American colonies at the time. He used the London style of an auditory (or preaching) church, as can be seen by the cove ceiling and the broad, open space. But instead of having columns support the roof, he strengthened the roof trusses with iron bands that he designed, as far as can be determined, especially for St. Peter’s. The church has a wide center aisle, two side aisles, and galleries on the north and south walls. It seats nine hundred people, and its acoustics are excellent for both preaching and music.

-- Elizabeth S. Browne

"I met Anna this morning. . . . I asked her
whether she was a Cross or a Vane (a queer question to ask a lady). She was anti-Cross and thought that the Steeple was the flattest one for such a high one she ever saw. The Bells of St. Peter’s Church are to be chimed on Wednesday next 2 Nov.”

-- Thomas Parry, October 1842

[Nicholas] Biddle’s response to Jackson’s war on the banking system was outrage. In a letter dated February 21, 1834, he pulled no punches, writing, “This worthy President thinks that because he has scalped Indians and imprisoned Judges, he is to have his way with the Bank. He is mistaken—and he may as well send at once and engage lodgings in Arabia.”

-- Cordelia Frances Biddle

Under [Ann Wharton Lewis] Glen’s care, 100 Pine Street became a settlement house with a live-in staff, “a center of the parish work for the poor,” according to the Rev.
James A. Montgomery, one of St.
Peter’s curates. “The House,” as it was often called, served as the neighborhood center of Christian life, fighting the foes listed by its vicar, the Rev. Bernard Schulte: “Ignorance, intemperance, gambling, idleness, lust and pauperism.”

-- Alan J. Heavens

At the time, Society Hill was a run-down
neighborhood, the church property
was often vandalized, and regular
services often attracted fewer than
fifty people. Although the church was filled to capacity for Sunday Evensong, there seemed to be resentment of the choir’s success. As one vestryman at that time said, [choirmaster Harold W.] Gilbert had turned the church into a concert hall.

--David Richards

It isn’t clear how much [the Rev. Francis Bayard] Rhein knew about St. Peter’s when he accepted the call. His opening message to the parish that September suggests he was enthusiastic and optimistic, though with some awareness that not everyone had been working together..."we must in this day stand upon our heritage to create a future worthy of the past.”

-- Marcia Rogers

 

II

A Book 250 Years in the Making
Authors and Contributors
CORDELIA FRANCES BIDDLE is the author of the historical novels The Conjurer, Deception's Daughter, Without Fear, and Beneath the Wind. An adjunct at the honors college at Drexel University, teaching creative writing, the former vestry member is a direct descendant of Nicholas Biddle.

ELIZABETH S. BROWNE, a tour guide, tour writer, de signer and guide trainer is a long-time member of St. Peter's Church. She has been co-chairman of the 250th Anniversary Committee since its inception, was a president of HSPCPC and also served on the vestry of St. Peter's.

ALAN J. HEAVENS is real estate columnist of The Philadelphia Inquirer, author of What No One Every Tells You About Renovating Your Home and Remodeling on the Money, and editor of 1787: Inventing America, and served on the vestry. He is an instructor at Temple University.
CHARLES P. PEITZ, who has served as the editor of this book, is a freelance editor formerly with The Philadelphia Inquirer, where he served as arts editor, and The Wall Street Journal. He also spent many years as an editor at Farm Journal Media's headquarters in Philadelphia.
KEN FINKEL of Temple's American Studies program is author of Nineteenth-Century Photography in Philadelphia, the 19th-century sketchbooks of Joshua Rowley Watson and the Pennsylvania Railroad photographs of William H. Rau.
GEORGE THOMAS is the author of Building America's First University: An Historical and Architectural Guide to the University of Pennsylvania. He is an architect, consultant and teaches in the Urban Studies Department at Penn. DAVID RICHARDS is president of the Historic St. Peter's Church Preservation Corp., and a member of the church choir. Since retiring from the pharmaceutical industry, he has served as a consultant to firms specializing in the health-care industry. MARCIA ROGERS joined St. Peter's Church in 1957, and has served in a host of lay capacities, including vestry membership and outreach. Most recently, she was one of the three coordinators of the Food Cupboard.
DAVID STEVENS joined St. Peter's in the 1960s, and has served the church in every lay capacity since. He and his wife, Dorothy, are the patron saints of the churchyard. THE REV. LEDLIE I. LAUGHLIN became 20th rector of St. Peter's in 1999, and the parish has experienced growth in membership and outreach unequaled since the early 20th century.

The 18th Century

The 19th Century

The 20th Century

The People of St. Peter's

The Choir

Mission and Outreach

Did You Know?

The Next 250

The Hero of Tripoli

The Book