Listed on the National Register of Historic Places
This Newport Heritage Park location was made possible in 2015 by the generous community spirit of the congregation of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.
First recorded Lutheran services were held in Newport homes and school houses by The Rev. John W. Heim as early as 1830.Preaching was done in German until 1842 when the pastor was requested to speak English also.
Formally organized in 1844 under the leadership of The Rev. Levi T.Williams, services were held at the brick school house on 2nd St. From 1847 to 1874, members shared space in the town’s first forma l religious edifice, the Union Church, with the Presbyterian and
Reformed congregations. The Union Church was located where the 1959 Newport Post Office now stands. St. Paul’s sold their one-third interest to the Presbyterians in 1877.
The Reformed Church constructed its own facility in 1868.
The St. Paul’s Romanesque style edifice was constructed in 1874 by builder Joshua Sweger for $15,000 which included land and furnishings. The auditorium could seat approximately 500 persons,which at the time was probably the largest indoor space in Perry County. St. Paul’s was the first church in the Synod of Central Pennsylvania to have a pipe organ, installed ca 1885. The current organ dates from 1912,and Maas chimes were installed in 1947.
During World War II,the decaying timbered steeple was removed,and by the late 1940s the present belfry was capped. The sanctuary contains a nativity fresco by J. H. Froehlich completed during the 1907 remodeling.
St. Paul stands as a symbol of the values of a people whose faith lives on ‘from age to age the same ‘.
Newport News, January 15, 1890
Explosion of Gas – Jacob Tibbins, janitor of the Lutheran Church, Newport, last Friday evening shortly before 7 o’clock, went into a certain portion of the segment of the church to procure kindling. In this apartment is kept gasoline from which gas is manufactured to light the building. Unfortunately, a leak had occurred in the pipes and the gas filled the room, and when Mr. Bibbins entered a terrific explosion occurred.
He was hurled up a flight of stairs and crawled upon his hands and knees, out of the building, a mass of sparks, which were speedily fanned to flame. Assistance answered his cries and the fire was extinguished, but not before he was badly burned about the face and hands.
The large doors at the entrance were torn from their hinges and wrecked. Every pane of glass in the main auditorium was broken to pieces and the window sash twisted and forced out of place. The Sabbath school room was damaged comparatively little. But the vestibule floor was forced up several inches.
Several persons were in the building at the time of the explosion, and although greatly frightened were uninjured. A lad passing just as the accident occurred was covered with sparks, but a friendly hand saved him from being burned. The Sabbath school room had been lit for evening services, but fortunately the audience had not assembled else we might be called upon to chronicle a catastrophe.”
The Pastors and Church through the Decades