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Grace Lutheran Church

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1965, Harold E. Wagoner. 205 S. Garner St.

By 1965, Grace Lutheran Church had outgrown its original quarters and commissioned Harold Wagoner, a prolific ecclesiastical architect from Philadelphia, to design what has become a local landmark. Sweeping skyward in a graceful curve, the main mass of the steelframe building is covered with randomly cut local stone that is pierced with many small, asymmetrically placed, geometrically patterned stained glass windows that subtly filter the light, as in Le Corbusier's Ronchamp of 1950–1955 in France. An arched opening in the wall houses three bells, and the arch motif repeats in the church's main entrance. Within the sanctuary, the sweeping, curved lines of the exterior define the main worship space, with high, open views in every direction. A freestanding circular altar and suspended cross complement the overall design. Grace Lutheran exemplifies both continuity and change, exhibiting the strong, relatively conservative Lutheran social base of this part of Pennsylvania while reflecting the openness of a university community to new architectural trends.

Writing Credits

Lu Donnelly et al.


What's Nearby


Lu Donnelly et al., "Grace Lutheran Church", [State College, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 1

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, Lu Donnelly, H. David Brumble IV, and Franklin Toker. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010, 351-352.

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