History

The church was officially organized in 1800 with Mr. Henry R. Wilson, a licentiate of the Presbytery of Carlisle.  He was pastor of both the Bellefonte and the Lick Run churches. They were united congregations at that time and had been meeting for worship prior to their official organization.  They were served by supply pastors.

Mr. Wilson served the churches until 1809, when he was replaced by Rev. James Linn, who served as Pastor for fifty eight years. He died February 23, 1868.

From the organization of the Bellefonte church, the congregation met until 1819 in the Courthouse. A square stone edifice was then erected on the current site of the church. In 1839, that sanctuary was taken down, and a Greek revival sanctuary with Doric columns replaced it.  Also in 1839, the Lick Run Church and Bellefonte churches dissolved their union.

In 1868 during the pastorate of Rev.Yeomans, an attempt was made to enlarge the building. When a wall was removed, it was found that it was not structurally sound enough to support the addition.  The entire structure was torn down and replaced by the current sanctuary.  After 1876 under the pastorate of Rev. William Laurie, the chapel was constructed, and an organ for the sanctuary was provided with funds raised mostly by the women of the congregation.

The first session of the Bellefonte Presbyterian Church included Col. James Dunlop and James Harris, founders of Bellefonte, along with Robert Boggs and James Foster. The membership was 50 congregants.  Subsequent members of session included Andrew Gregg Curtain and James Beaver, who became governors of Pennsylvania.  The congregation of 1895 numbered 400.

A bolt of lightning struck the steeple of the sanctuary in 1913, and it fell onto a nearby home. Anna Keichline, the first registered female architect in Pennsylvania and a Bellefonte resident, designed the current towers.

On January 5, 1964, the addition that joined the sanctuary and chapel was dedicated as the new Christian education building.

In September of 1972, a fire damaged a large portion of the sanctuary. It was refurbished, and new stain glass windows were added. Original stain glass is still present over the entrance doors to the sanctuary.  Oral tradition says that the original stained glass was imported from France.

The Bellefonte First Presbyterian Church has been served by 22 installed pastors since 1800. The current pastor is Rev. Douglas Elder, who was installed June 8, 1997.

The Bellefonte First Presbyterian Church has served the Huntingdon Presbytery and the Bellefonte community for over two hundred years.

With God’s grace it will serve another 200 years.

 

Prepared by Candace Dannaker

 

Sources:    The Historical Memorial of the Huntingdon Presbytery 1795-1895, the Linnear, Bellefonte Museum, 2001. List of installed Pastors for Bellefonte First Presbyterian Church, Huntingdon Presbytery