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Arch Street United Methodist Church

Majestic Methodist church, the oldest structure on Center Square, in the shadow of City Hall

Description

The Experience

The stately grace of Arch Street United Methodist Church’s marble Victorian exterior is matched by its magnificent sanctuary, featuring arched doorways, soaring ceilings, dark wood, red-cushioned pews, and brilliant two-story stained glass windows.

During the week, visitors may enter from Broad Street and use the small prayer chapel or ring the bell for the office staff, one of whom will open the sanctuary for viewing. In the balcony on the north side of the church sits a magnificent multistop organ, originally installed in 1870 by JCD Standbridge. In 1916, the organ was rebuilt, adding choir and swell organs, as well as cathedral chimes. In 1959 it was rebuilt and enlarged again.

History

Arch Street United Methodist was organized in 1862 and built on a former coal yard between 1864 and 1870. During most of the 20th century, Arch Street UMC was the resident bishop’s home church and the site of 40 Methodist conferences. Now an active and diverse Center City congregation, it hosts many community and social groups, including regular workshops about Native American heritage.

Other Information

Service times: Sun 8:30 & 11 a.m. (Office and prayer chapel open Mon – Fri; Sanctuary opened on request. Tours Wed, 10-1 p.m.)

Insider Tip

Notice the symbolism used in the interior design, which was a departure from the plainer meeting houses of the time.

Kids’ Stuff

Look closely at the stained glass windows; much of the artwork is hand painted using a technique popular in the the mid-to late-1800s.

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