Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Tale of Two Churches - Architectural Cornerstones of Kirtland, Ohio

Today's blog briefly examines the stories of two places of worship found in Kirtland, Ohio.  One's story is rather well known, the other not nearly as known.  The Kirtland Temple on Joseph Street is a National Historic Landmark.  It was built from materials of a local gravel pit during a three year period, 1833-36.  Its chief founder Joseph Smith and his Mormon followers built this house of worship as they sought to develop another view of Christianity.  On July 25,1836, Joseph Smith left Kirtland and boarded a steamship in Fairport Harbor to begin a proselyting journey to Massachusetts.  Kirtland Temple membership reached a high of 2000 in 1838.  A year later, all but 100 were gone.  The Western Reserve Teachers Seminary rented two floors at the Temple in 1838-1839 as the church transitioned, while maintaining and continuing its historical presence in Kirtland through the present.

St. Hubert's Episcopal Church on Baldwin Road has had a rich and interesting journey in its history.  It was established on July 9, 1893 as the Church of the Transformation.  Originally located on Little Mountain Road, twenty-three years later it was moved to Salida Beach, Mentor on the Lake.  It sat on the grounds of the summer recreation facility known as the Holliday House for Girls.  Closed in 1925, there it remained until 1929, when it was moved to its current home.  The framework of the main chapel, stained glass windows, and bell survived the move.  The new St. Hubert's was a summer chapel until 1979, when it began full time services.  A Charles M. Ruggles pipe organ is a treasured piece of its history.

Another church worth noting is the Old South Church on Chillicothe Road.  Established in 1819, the first structure burned down.  A second structure faced the fury of a hurricane, before the current church was built in 1859.  The next time you drive the roadways of Kirtland, Ohio, it is my hope that you stop and take a few minutes to explore and learn the 'rest of the story' of these rich and interesting sites.

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