The First 300

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church

1940s aerial photo shows: (1) Graveyard established in 1766, burial ground for 116 soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary, Civil and 1812 Wars; (2) Old Dutch Schoolhouse built in 1787; (3) Sexton’s house, 1844, and the old parsonage (1852); (4) Former Wynnewood Road grammar school, now Torah Academy; (5) The fifth church on East Athens Avenue and Wynnewood Road.

Prior to the American Revolution, rural farms covered most of the Township. A 66-acre farm, the Atkinson Place, was bought at sheriff’s sale (for $725) by a group of six German immigrants who sought land for a church and a burial place. Like their Welsh neighbors who fled their birthplace because of religious oppression, they also were welcomed by the colonies. The group erected a simple log church in 1769, then they attached to it a small stone schoolhouse in 1787. The disintegrating log structure was replaced by a stone one in 1800. As the parish grew (services were in German) there was a need for a larger place of worship. The simple white “Country Church” was built on the site in 1833 and a permanent minister was hired. As Ardmore’s population grew, there was a need for a “Town Church.” It was built in 1873-75 on Lancaster Pike in Ardmore. Despite the Depression, there was steady growth in the congregation and, when a farmland lot and a bequest were pledged by Charles Knox and sister Margaret Green, the present church was erected on East Athens Avenue and Wynnewood Road in 1940.

The Log Church, 1769, a one room building, served the early German Protestants, German Reformed and the Lutherans.
That was replaced by a sturdy stone one on the same spot. Although economic times were tight for St. Paul’s, the parish replaced it with the handsome, simple “Country Church”.
Note the old Dutch schoolhouse at the right rear. “Renting” of pews and sale of burial permits ($2) allowed the church to hire its first permanent pastor ($150 a year). Until 1890, St. Paul’s was the only church in Ardmore and attracted a growing congregation because services were now in English.
Ardmore was growing after the Civil War.There were 65 houses, 250 inhabitants, 4 stores, but no houses of worship. The village post office was called “Cabinet” and the railroad stop was “Athensville.” With no available land near “The Country Church” the trustees of St. Paul’s elected to look for a convenient location near the town center. Land at Lancaster Pike west of Church Road was given by Charles Kugler, whose father owned the famous Seven Stars Inn on adjacent property. The “Town Church” was dedicated in 1875.
The Church Council in 1915 with Luther C. Parsons, seated, a devoted St. Paul’s member and a church leader for over 50 years.
The ten beautiful turn-of-the-century stained glass windows were relocated from the Lancaster Avenue church to the present church.
The Good Shepherd Window was dedicated in 1915 to the memory of Sabina Green. Her mother and uncle, John Knox, had given the land for the fifth church. Though the new church had been in the planning stage for many years, it was stalled by the Depression. The dedication was in 1941. The Parsons Bell Tower, right of center, honored its longtime member. It was planned in the 1930s, finally built in 1957. The architecture reflects a Lutheran simplicity.