St. John's Evangelical Protestant Church in Wheeling
Designed by Wheeling architect Frederick F. Faris, this sacred edifice is the third location for St. John’s congregation. Though this structure was built in 1907-08, St. John’s dates its origins to 1835. What records remain state that at this time German pioneers in Wheeling held religious services, first in a frame building located on Main Street, and then the old Ohio County Court House on Tenth Street until, when, in 1836, the same year Wheeling was incorporated as a City, a church was erected on 18th Street. The cornerstone of this church bears the inscription, “Erste Deutsche Lutherische Kirche in Wheeling, 1936” (First German Lutheran Church in Wheeling, 1836). This original cornerstone was a cherished possession of the St. John’s congregation and was laid into the east wall of the 1908 structure built on Chapline Street.
A merger in 1870 resulted in a name change to St. John’s German Evangelical Protestant Church. Following rapid growth after the merger, a larger church became a necessity. A more central location, at the corner of Market and 17th Streets near Market Street Bridge, was chosen for the second site. A classic Mid-century Protestant-style Gothic-Revival structure was dedicated in 1872. The building, ground, organ, and parsonage was reported to have cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $30,000. The previous church building on 18th Street was sold to First Presbyterian Church, where upon they opened the missionary Laughlin Chapel.
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad would be the demise of the second structure not even 35 years later. For a number of years, the B&O had been, according to church records, demanding St. John’s sell their property. A price could not be agreed upon, and after a court case tried in 1906, St. John’s was forced to sell to the B&O. St. John’s Church and neighboring buildings were demolished to make way for the construction of the B&O Terminus Building, now West Virginia Northern Community College’s main campus building. In accordance with the terms of the sale, the congregation was able to salvage the memorial stained glass windows, the organ, the bell, the carpets, the altar and pulpit trappings, the pews, and the fixtures for gas and electric lights, all of which were carefully packed and stored awaiting the construction of a new church.
Homeless, St. John’s, once again found itself looking for new property and purchased the lot on which it now stands on the corner of 22nd and Chapline. The cornerstone was laid in May of 1907 and the impressive German Gothic style structure was dedicated in September of 1908. "Built of yellow brick on a massive quarry-faced sandstone foundation, the church has a prominent corner tower that rises above the sanctuary's steep gables to terminate in a short pyramidal spire. Large wall dormers project from each face of the spire, but the tops of tapered pinnacles that one decorated each corner have been removed. Several of the arched windows contain stained glass removed from an earlier building and reinstalled here."
In 1961, the merger of the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches resulted in another name change and the congregation became known as St. John’s United Church of Christ.
▶ 1835-1872: North Side of Clay (18th St) between Sixth (Jacob) and Seventh (Wood)
▶ 1872-1906: Market and 17th Street (near Market Street Bride - Demolished to make way for B&O Terminus)
▶ 1907-present: 41 22nd Street (Corner of 22nd and Chapline Streets)
Materials in the Library's Wheeling Room: (non-circulating, ask for access at the reference desk.)
▶ Ninety-fifth anniversary of St. John's Evangelical Protestant Church, Wheeling, W. Va., Sunday, October 25, 1931. Call#: Wheeling 285.834 Sa23n
▶ Die gottesdienstlichen Gebaude der Evangelisch-Protestantischen St. Johannes Gemeinde in Wort und Bild seit ihren Bestehen: Festschrift zum Andenken an die Einweihung der neuen Kirche am Sonntag, den 20. Sept. 1908. Der Gemeinde gewidet von Pastor Wm. G., 1908. Call#: Wheeling 285.834 Sa23g
Materials in the Library Archives: (non-circulating - access by appointment only, call 304-232-0244.)
▶Archives vertical file: St. John's United Church of Christ
▶Archives vertical file: St. John's United Church of Christ (photograph)