Even if you don’t attend church on a regular basis, the stately churches of old Frederick will capture your attention and encourage you to venture inside. Even now, we have churches which were built over 260 years ago, are structurally sound and continue to be the meeting place for it’s respective congregations. Some people have referred to Frederick as the City of Clustered Spires for the number of churches with tall towers or spires. The architecture, both inside and out, is impressive and as varied as the ethnicity of the early settlers of Frederick, dating back to it’s founding in 1745. Some of these church congregations were formed before the city, itself, existed. During the Civil War, all of the existing churches were converted into makeshift hospitals beginning at about the time of the Battle of Antietam, and continuing until war’s end.
Here is a sampling of some theses historic houses of worship that are worth exploring:
All Saints Episcopal (originally All Saints) Church- 106 W. Church St.- Founded in 1742, as a branch of the Church of England. The current sanctuary building was erected in 1914, and features classic Georgian architecture, with its Palladian windows and pilasters, had a very famous congregant, a local attorney by the name of Francis Scott Key, the composer of the Star Spangled Banner. The church didn’t collect an offering until 1920, but rather rented their pews by the year. This was common practice among the Frederick churches of that era.
Evangelical Lutheran Church-35 E.Church St.- Founded in 1732 and current building constructed in 1854. Exterior structure dominated by twin octagonal towers and Gothic vestibule. The ornate interior features a Moller organ with 2,793 speaking pipes, one of the largest in the area.
St. Johns Catholic Church- 116 E. 2nd St.- Founded in 1763 by British Catholics seeking to avoid religious persecution. Present building constructed in 1837. The exterior features a 5 story tower surmounted by three 1 story telescopic sections. The interior features a high ceiling and fluted columns. The altar is dominated by a masterpiece painting of the Crucifixion.
Evangelical Reformed Church (United Church of Christ)- 15 W. Church St.-Founded in 1745 by German immigrants. Present building erected in 1848 and features Greek Revival architecture. A key interior feature is a spectacular chancel. Pilasters and Ionic pillars dominate both the interior and exterior structures. One of their famous members was Barbara Fritchie, whose memorabilia are featured on the ground floor.
Frederick Presbyterian Church-115 W. 2nd St.- Founded in 1780 by Scottish immigrants seeking religious freedom. The current sanctuary was built in 1825. The structure on the exterior is smaller and less ornate than it’s fellow churches of that time, but the interior is a treasure and has been beautifully restored and accented by detailed stained glass windows. Confederate General Stonewall Jackson (who was an ordained Presbyterian minister), worshipped here, where his best friend was the pastor, until 1862. As the war turned in the North’s favor, the townspeople shifted allegiance accordingly and forbid Jackson from returning. The tree that Jackson tied his horse to still stands in front of the church.
There are several other historical houses of worship and they all are worth seeing. We are most fortunate to be surrounded by such beautiful and well preserved structures. I will write about various types of buildings in historic Frederick because as an active realtor in downtown Frederick I truly enjoy sharing some of the great things like our historic churches that make Frederick so great.