Wednesday, January 12, 2011

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church

In the small city of Johnstown St. Mark’s Episcopal Church is a place of worship, like most churches. The church has a certain sense of security, almost embrace, from the surrounding buildings.

The Episcopal Church had a presence in the city of Johnstown since 1855. The first St. Mark’s church was built in 1874, but was destroyed by the flood of 1889. The Great Flood of 1889, as the locals called it, was a great disaster for the city, region, and nation. The flood ravaged the city of Johnstown along with St. Mark’s and left them both in ruin. The flood was estimated to have killed 2,200 people and was the first major disaster that the American Red Cross responded to. The city and the church were left a strewn across the valley. It took the city many years to recover; the church was rebuilt after only 2 years. It was commemorated in 1891.

The new church incorporated the only two salvaged objects from the original church: the wooden altar and the church bell. The new church is in a Romanesque revival style. The large rugged stones, steep roof pitch, and solid walls typify this. There are elements that are not Romanesque in nature like the large rose window and pointed arches. The plan of the church is a modified basilican plan. It features single side aisles along an open nave.

Since the completion of the new church in 1891 a number of other structures have been built. The most notable is the memorial garden. The garden was created to remember those who lost their lives in the flood of 1889; 120 of the perished were members of St. Mark's.

Another new addition to the structure is the bell tower. A newly constructed bell tower top was added recently and includes the original church bell from the original church.

The church is open to the public during normal mass hours. If one visits outside of the masses go to the parish office and they will be more than willing to help.
Other than the church itself the site offers a Memorial garden that has its own labyrinth. This labyrinth is based on the same eleven-circuit labyrinth inlaid in the floor at the cathedral in Chartres, France. The Greek philosopher Herodotus created the term labyrinth. It is to represent one’s life path.

Johnstown is a city with a rich history and much to see. The Johnstown National Flood Memorial is about ten miles north east of the city in a town know as South Fork. South Fork was originally located on a medium sized lake and was a resort town for the wealthy, like the Carnegie and the Mellon families. The dam holding back the lake gave way and thus causing The Great Flood of 1889. Today there is a memorial and some nice walking trails around the site. Another place to visit near St. Marks in particular is the incline. Located across the Stoneycreek tributary this unique hillside trolley gives a great view of the greater Johnstown area.

Name: St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
Location: 335 Locust Street, Johnstown, Pa, 15901
Religious Affiliation: Christian – Episcopalian
Date of Construction: 1889-91
Building Style; Romanesque Revival
Plan type: Basilican
Primary Material(s): Stone
Status: Active

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Website
David McCullough’s The Johnstown Flood

researched by Sean McFadden

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