St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Wheeling
The congregation of St. Matthew's was established by the gathering of 25 charter members in 1819. During the church's first year, services were held in the old courthouse on Main Street (at the intersection at 10th).
The cornerstone of the first church was laid May 9, 1821, on the northern end of where the present Market Plaza now sits. It was described as being "built of brick, having a tower and bell. It is remembered as containing a gallery on three sides and a very high pulpit." Accommodating 72 pews within the 60-foot by 45-foot building, the congregation still outgrew this first church quickly.
In 1836, a brick building which stood at the current site of the Fort Henry Club was remodeled and served as the second church building for some months but proved unsatisfactory "by reason of its proximity to the other churches." The building was sold for $7,600 and the lot on the southeast corner of Bryon and 12th Street (see First Baptist/The Blue Church) was secured. The church built upon the lot was consecrated October 27, 1837. Designed by architect James H. White, this third St. Matthew's was built in the Greek Revival fashion featuring a Doric entablature typical of antebellum architecture in Wheeling.
By 1860, the congregation was once again growing uncomfortably large worship for their worship space. On March 13, 1866, the church on Byron St was sold to the Baptist Society for $8,000 and the lots on which the present church building and administrative offices now stand were purchased from Henry K. List for a sum of $5,000. The Gothic Revival-style church building that currently houses St. Matthew's was designed by architect Gordon W. Lloyd of Detroit. Wheeling architect J. S. Fairfax was contracted as a superintending architect on the project, with the cornerstone being laid November 1, 1866, and construction completed in 1868. The building, however, was not consecrated until 1888 after final construction costs were paid.
: A history and record of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of West Virginia : and, before the formation of the diocese in 1878, in the territory now known as the state of West Virginia, Peterkin, Geo. W., 1902
More History coming soon.
▶ 1410 Chapline Street
- The first rector of St. Matthew's, Rev. John Armstrong, originally of Frederick, Maryland, was purported to have been buried under the steps of this first building after having passed away while crossing the mountains on a fundraising trip meant to raise money to cover the debt of the building of the church. A marble slab hangs in the narthex of the current St. Matthew's on Chapline street which describes the entombment.
▶ St. Matthew's Episcopal Church of Wheeling, West Virginia., Fawcett, R. Alan, 1999
▶ A history and record of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of West Virginia : and, before the formation of the diocese in 1878, in the territory now known as the state of West Virginia, Peterkin, Geo. W., 1902