According to the historian Barbara McEwing, commercial and civic development on Market Street led the First and Central congregations, merged in 1920, to seek a new home across Rodney Square (WL29). Given the venerable history of the congregations, the Colonial Revival style seemed an obvious choice, and moreover the committee held that “no design more aptly bespeaks a building of the Presbyterian faith than does our own Georgian or Colonial.” The exterior face brick supplied by a York, Pennsylvania, firm “resembles the hand-made clay brick used in Colonial days.” It was laid in Hytest mortar and sand, which “produced the desired effect of resembling a building built fifty years or more ago.” The tile roof was “made to resemble an aged split shingle roof.” Marble trim came from West Rutland, Vermont. The gabled portico echoed that of the historic Greek Revival Draper Mansion (c. 1840), demolished to make way for the church. A 115-foot spire was topped with a fish emblem. The church was set back from the city streets behind a wall of brick piers, iron fence, and boxwood hedge. Inside, the nave has old-fashioned box pews and arches supported by Roman Doric columns. For all the traditionalist touches, the building was highly modern: it was made with fireproof construction, it was fully wired for staunchly fundamentalist broadcasts on radio station WDEL, and it had a motion-picture booth in the Social Hall. The church was one of the last collaborations of Walter Stewart Brown (design partner) and G. Morris Whiteside II, as Brown died in 1931. Much of the design work was by draftsman Reah de B. Robinson.
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First and Central Presbyterian Church
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