Celebrating 200 Years of History in 2020

Church of Nativity

Marker Information

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ca. 1900, The Church of the Nativity and rectory beside Little Buffalo Creek and the 2nd Street Bridge.

Built in 1889, The Church of the Nativity was constructed by prominent Newport contractor John W. Hetrick in mock Tudor style. The adjacent 1893 facility served as the rectory until converted in 2004 to office and meeting space.

The first Newport Episcopal services were held in the home of Mrs. Elizabeth T. Moore Bechtel on March 28, 1875, assisted by Mrs. Sarah Kerr Hiestand, reported to be the first Episcopalian in Newport. Later, worship moved to the supervisor’s office of the Pennsylvania Railroad at 3rd and Walnut Streets. A building lot was purchased on South 2nd Street in 1887, and the facility dedicated November 14, 1889.

Among the priests, two are noted for their length of service and one for being the first woman priest. The Rev. William Dorwart (1864-1927) took charge August

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ca. 1900, The Rev. William Dorwart and choir.

1891 and served until his death. A beloved figure, he ‘grew’ the parish and became known as ‘the Rector of Newport’ for his civic activities during his 36 years in the community.

In another generation from 1974-2004, The Rev. Canon William T. Warne II responded to the economic challenges of his time to help establish the low-income residences of Episcopal Commons, Newport and Episcopal Gardens, Thompsontown. He also served as a catalyst for many human service and civic programs. Historic St. Stephen, Thompsontown, founded 1827, merged with Nativity in 1984.

As a reflection of the changing roles of women in the Episcopal Church, The Rev. Daphne S. K. Messersmith, the first female rector of Nativity, served from 2005 to 2013.
Top –ca. 1900, The Church of the Nativity and rectory beside Little Buffalo Creek and the 2nd Street Bridge.
Bottom –ca. 1900, The Rev. William Dorwart and choir.

Photographs of the Newport Church of the Nativity

Below, Church of the Nativity and S. 2nd Street Bridge over the Little Buffalo Creek, ca 1905

1900 ca Church of Nativity and Rectory

 

Looking north on S. 2nd Street over the Little Buffalo Creek, ca 1905

1900 ca Church of Nativity on unpaved 2nd St

 

Below, standing on S. 4th Street Bridge looking east toward Nativity and the S. 2nd Street Bridge over the Little Buffalo

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Below, Church of the Nativity ca 1960

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1960s ca Newport, PA Church of the Nativity

 

Some of the Priests who have Served

Dowart, The Rev. William 1891-1927

 

 

 

Foulkes, The Rev. Earnest Walter Folkes 1929-1936

 

 

Stiffler, The Rev. John 1937-1941     Mowen, The Rev. J. Harold 1962-1966

 

Feick, The Rev. Don H. 1959-1962

Docker, The Rev. John Thornley Docker 68-74

Below, the Rev. Canon William Warne, 1974 – 2004

2015-07-26 001 110 Below parishioner Barbara Holliman, former director of capital campaigns with the Episcopal Church Foundation, and the Revs. Daphne Messersmith, rector from 2006 – 2013, and Bill Warren on dedication day, July 25, 2015 of the Church of the Nativity historic marker.

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From the Perry Review, 2013, a transcription from the Newport News on the opening of the
Church of the Nativity in 1889

Click on the images below for a larger view

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Perry County Heritage Trail

The Perry County Bicentennial Committee is happy to be involved with the research and writing of much of the content of the history of Perry County. The committee has been instrumental in working with sponsors to procure and install the markers as shown in this Heritage Trail website.