Hollidaysburg First Presbyterian Church

Church History

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by the Spirit.”
Ephesians 2:19-22

In the beginning: the old Frankstown Trail started in the Allegheny Mountains and went eastward to Philadelphia. This is the trail that brought the first white settlers to this area. At first the local Indians were friendly, but became discontented as they lost their homes and hunting grounds. This resulted in bloody battles to drive the settlers from the territory until 1781, when, sadly for them they were finally defeated. (If only we understood then what we understand now about mutual human dignity, humility, justice, peace.)

The first documented sermon by a Presbyterian pastor in Hollidaysburg was in 1770, at the home of William Holliday. In 1784, a summer meeting place called a “Tent” was built at Blue Spring at the head of Scotch Valley. The congregation was officially incorporated in 1788 and was located in what is now the Presbyterian Cemetery. The church has been served by seventeen ministers from the beginning until now.

In 1836 two lots at the northeast corner of Penn and Walnut Streets in Hollidaysburg were purchased to build a brick building of colonial design. In 1844, the adjoining three lots were purchased on the corner of Walter and Clark Streets. A building was erected to house an academy to prepare young men for college. This building was destroyed by fire in 1850. The last teacher to conduct the school was Professor John Miller, who later became the first Superintendent of Altoona City Schools. The church building was declared unsafe in 1868, and worship commenced in the Court House. By 1870, a new Chapel was completed as an interim worship space, while steps were taken to complete the main sanctuary, the cornerstone of which was laid in 1869, and which, upon conclusion, cost the grand sum of $60,000.

The congregation is currently in the midst of a 3-5-year Capital Campaign: Building Upon the Foundation of God’s Faithfulness and Purpose for Us.

The capital projects completed thus far have included 1) installing two new furnaces for the sanctuary, 2) waterproofing the courtyard foundation, 3) refurbishing an entire stained glass window and installing new clear glass in place of all the aged yellow Plexiglass on the outside of the windows of the chapel and sanctuary, 4) retrofitting the light fixtures in the Office/Education building, 5) replacing the Chapel carpet and installing 80 cushioned pew chairs. Two final major projects will be remodeling the four bathrooms and resurfacing the tile floors on the first and second floors.

As much as we have been trying to reach out to our neighbors, getting to better know them and serve them, we have inherited this awesome space in which to gather for worship, fellowship, nourishment of body and soul. We, therefore, are grateful for, and accept our responsibility to be good stewards of, the “bricks and mortar” that houses our church family, while always affirming the spiritual truth:

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain”—Psalm 127:1

Hollidaysburg First Presbyterian Church
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