Saint John's has a long, rich history serving God and our community. Below is a brief history from the formations of Christianity in Schuylkill Haven and Saint John's Congregation from its beginning through the present day.
1822 - 1828
The first families of Schuylkill Haven gathered to worship in small log structure located along the north side of present day PA Route 61 / Center Avenue adjacent to the cemetery. Although there was no church proper, the Gottes Dienstlich Schurlhaus was constructed for "school, religious, and burial purposes". This building was also used as a school in the earliest days of our community.
1828 - 1851
The second house of worship for Lutheran & Reformed families was this wood fame building that measured about 45'x50". Behind it there was a pump, coal house, and a long row of sheds to shelter horses during bad weather. A gallery extended around three sides with the organ in the back. On the front wall stood a tall "wine glass" pulpit.
Saint Paul's Church of Spring Garden
1851 - 1860
This church was built by a union congregation that split from Jerusalem Church. It was constructed on Dock Street across from the Broadway Bridge. Saint Paul's Church was in existence less than ten years. Both congregations dissolved when a disagreement arose over the $2,000 debt that remained on the building. The property was eventually purchased by Saint Ambrose Roman Catholic Church and became apartments in the late 1980's.
Formation of Saint John's - Voute Building
The first place of worship for Saint John's Congregation was a room in the dwelling of Henry Voute, located at the northeast corner of Main & Dock Streets. Here, on January 26, 1862, the organizers of Saint John's Church met for the first worship service under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Henry Harbaugh, Pastor of Saint John's, Lebanon and Rev. David Wolff, first Pastor of Saint John's Church. In 1928, the building was raised and replaced with two large stone homes, currently the Stone House Bed & Breakfast.
Saint John's German Reformed Church
The former Methodist Episcopal Church at #417-#421 East Main Street was purchased by the congregation for $405. This two-story plain brick building was the home of Saint John's Church until a new, larger church could be constructed. It was torn down in 1894 with some of the bricks and lumber used to construct the homes on those lots. This photo, from one of the stained glass windows in the next church building, is the only known image of that church.
RIGHT: Sanctuary of Saint John's Church, circa 1913-1914.
FAR RIGHT: Excavation for Strunck Hall begins, September 1925.
Saint John's Reformed Church
As the congregation grew, a larger building was necessary. Lots were purchased at #117-#119 East Main Street and a new brick church constructed. The new building was 42'x87' and built in the Gothic style with a tall central tower. The lower level contained a large lecture room for the Sunday School, From the vestibule, two black walnut staircases led to the Sanctuary as well as a rear gallery. Over the years, several additions were added to the rear of the building to accommodate the congregation's growth. The building, originally lit by oil lamps, and later gaslights, was converted to electricity in 1912.
Strunck Memorial Hall
By 1924, the steady increase in membership led to plans for a new education building to be constructed immediately behind the church. Groundbreaking was held on October 4, 1925 with excavation beginning on October 8. The cornerstone was laid on February 28, 1926. As construction progressed, plans were modified to allow the building to be used for both worship and education purposes. The dedication of Strunck Memorial Hall was held on Sunday, February 27, 1927 when 572 persons marched from the old church to the West Entrance of the new building. The old building was torn down during the summer of 1927 and the area graded and concrete sidewalks and retaining walls completed by September.
TOP LEFT: Strunck Hall Sanctuary, 1927.
BOTTOM LEFT: Strunck Hall Gymnasium, 1927.
CENTER: Strunck Hall Sanctuary, circa 1960.
TOP RIGHT: Demolition of properties at corner of East Main & Dock Streets, 1959.