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Gateway to the Mountains

George Wireman

Chapter 17: Thurmont Moravian Church

From the records of the Graceham Moravian Church, we learn that at a Congregational Council, convened on February 15, 1874, it was resolved "That we, the members of this congregation, regard it as highly essential to the permanent well-being of our church in this portion of God's heritage, to have a permanent and suitable house of worship in Mechanicstown." As a result, a lot was purchased on Water Street and a church was built.

On Sunday, July 19, 1874, the corner stone of the new Moravian Church in Mechanicstown was laid with Bishop David Bigler of Lancaster, Pennsylvania officiating, assisted by the pastor, the Rev. L. P. Clewell of Graceham and the Rev. W. H. Rice of York, Pennsylvania. The service connected with the laying of the corner stone began at 10:00 A.M. After the laying of the corner stone, there was a preaching service in the Lutheran Church which was opened to the Moravians for the occasion. The text of Bishop Bigler was "Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." (I TIM. 6:19) The church was crowded with an attentive assembly. In the after-noon at 3 o'clock, Rev. W. H. Rice preached to another large audience on the text, "Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone." (EPH. 2:20) The deep interest manifested by all the people of the town and neighborhood was very marked. Rarely has such assemblies been gathered together on any occasion in Mechanicstown.

On December 6, 1874, the church was dedicated. On this Sun-day morning the congregation gathered in the new sanctuary so that it was crowded to the utmost capacity, even up to the very steps of the pulpit. Large numbers were obligated to leave the scene for the want of room.

The service was opened by the Graceham choir. Rev. L. P. Celwell led the congregation in prayer followed by Bishop E. de-Schweinitz, who proceeded to dedicate the new edifice to the worship of the Triune God and to offer the dedicatory prayer. An anthem of praise was sung by the choir whereupon Bishop de-Schweinitz preached the first sermon. A prayer by the Trinity Re-formed clergyman followed and the service was closed in the usual manner.

This new church was planned by Mr. J. C. Trautwine of Philadelphia. It was a small edifice, accommodating about 300 persons, but was, at the same time, a model of architectural taste. By common consent, it was regarded at the time, as the most beautiful church in Mechanicstown.

The exterior was painted a stone color; the interior was exceedingly attractive, with a convenient pulpit and a recess back of it. An appropriate steeple, in which swings a Troy bell, surmounts the edifice. The furniture was complete, including shades for the windows, matting for the aisles, a sofa, chairs and carpet for the pulpit platform, and very fine lamps.

The cost of the building and the furniture, part of which was presented by friends in Baltimore, was only $2,400. Of this amount $400 remained unpaid on the morning of the day of dedication. During the dedication ceremonies $200 was raised and only $200remained uncovered. This, the pastor endeavored to collect as part of his duty of the new church.

For forty-four years the Thurmont Moravian Church served the community. On September 1, 1918, the last service was held and the membership was transferred to the Graceham Moravian Church.

The building remained idle until 1926, when it was sold to D. S. Weybright. He immediately made plans to allow for a basement and thus raised the floor about four feet. When the remodeling plans were complete, Mr. Weybright, together with Guy Hobbs and Lee Martin opened a store. Later, a dairy was started, the first pasturized dairy in the area, known as the Ho-Mar-Way Dairy.

In 1932 Mr. Weybright sold the building to Gall and Smith who continued to operate a store and then later went into the feed business. After Gall and Smith discontinued the store, the building was leased to the American Stores Company who maintained it until early in 1967, when their lease expired.

The building was then remodeled and made into a recreation center for teenagers, known as "Teentown." It now serves as head-quarters for the Thurmont Public Library.

Water Street, Looking South

Chapter Index | Chapter 18: Trinity United Church of Christ

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