St. Thomas Evangelical Lutheran Church is a rural community church that first started with worship in the homes of pioneer Christian families as far back as 1813. The present Church Building is the third structure for this congregation on or near this location. In 2010, the Church celebrated its 136th anniversary as a Lutheran Church.
The St. Thomas Evangelical Lutheran Church of Paint Township, Somerset County, was organized in the Flat Rock Schoolhouse, April 11, 1874, by Rev. J.A. Nuer, with 29 charter members.
This organization, known at first as the “Ridge Congregation” belonging to the Scalp Level charge, decided to build a church. On August 15, 1874, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Lohr donated over an acre of ground for the first church and it was renamed in their honor, St. Thomas Lutheran.
The first building was a structure 33’ x 30’ x 12’. There were no pews, two front doors, no porch, one pulpit, and no altar. The building had three windows on two sides with no color, two heating stoves, oil lamps, no electricity, a hitching post to accommodate ten horses and buggies and an outhouse due to the lack of plumbing.
To accommodate the growing congregation it was decided in 1903 to build a larger church. A new location was selected so as have access to more and better burial ground. Property was donated by the widow and heirs of David Naugle. This church was a plank structure measuring 36’ x50’—weather boarded and plastered with a yellow pine ceiling, slate roof, a steeple with bell, brackets along the wall for oil lamps, frosted colored window glass, vestibule and oak furniture.
In 1921, this building was moved to face the main road and the basement was excavated to make Sunday school rooms. About two acres of ground was donated for the relocated church building by Mr. & Mrs. John T. Lohr and their son Moses Lohr.
On August 29, 1965 it was voted to build the third and existing church consisting of a sanctuary and education building all-in-one. The present church (built in 1966) is wood-framed structure with a brick veneer—a modern looking exterior with a semi-modern, semi-gothic interior. The interior of the nave is composed of pine tongue-and-groove with laminated arch beams. The exterior possesses a high steeple that once bent in a windstorm, and thus now has a solid steel core.
WHAT TO SEE
When you walk into the church you will notice the large cross behind the altar and the two beautifully colored stained glass strips of acrylic glass that extend from floor to ceiling. The composition of this particular glass allows the sunlight to penetrate the glass and illuminate the altar and the whole nave.
The bell tower outside holds the bell from the second church. It is made of cast iron. The bell tower itself is made of concrete and is waiting for the bell to ring again. It currently needs to be rebuilt.
Name: St. Thomas Evangelical Lutheran Church
Location: 1439 Ridge Road Hooversville, Pa 15936
Religious Affiliation: Lutheran
Date of Construction: 1874-present
Architect: Creative Building Inc., Banning, IL (1966 structure)
Building Style: Modern
Plan Type: Open hall-type
Primary Materials: Wood, brick, plaster
History of the Allegheny Evangelical Lutheran Synod vol.2 by Rev. W.H. Bruce Carney Printed for the Synod by the Lutheran Publication Society pp. 575-579.
Parishioners of St. Thomas Evangelical Lutheran Church.
researched by Tracey Maust