Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church
Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church National Historic Site
|Location||Swanson St., between Christian and Water Sts., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
|Area||3.7 acres (1.5 ha)|
|Governing body||Corporation of Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church|
|NRHP Reference #||66000682|
|Added to NRHP||October 15, 1966|
|Designated PHMC||December 17, 1954|
Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church, founded in 1677, and built between 1698 and 1700, is a historic church in the Southwark section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The congregation was originally Swedish Lutheran, but has been Episcopalian since 1845.
Gloria Dei is the oldest church in Pennsylvania and second oldest Swedish church in the United States after Holy Trinity Church (Old Swedes) in Wilmington, Delaware. Swedish pioneers of New Sweden were the first to settle the area in 1646. An existing blockhouse at Wicaco (now South Philadelphia), had been renovated for worship in 1677 and was used until the present church (built beginning in 1697) was consecrated on the First Sunday after Trinity, July 2, 1700. A fire destroyed many of the church records in 1740. Colonial painter Gustavus Hesselius was a member here.
In 1703, Gloria Dei was the site of the first regular Lutheran ordination in the Western hemisphere, that of Justus Falckner, a German theology student. Jenny Lind sang here during one of her American tours. Hanging in the center aisle is a Swedish chandelier given by famous Swedish artist Carl Milles. Recollections of many Swedish royal and episcopal visits are treasured memories, including models of Fogel Grip and Kalmar Nyckel, the first Swedish ships to arrive in New Sweden.
It is located at Columbus Boulevard (formerly known as Delaware Avenue) and Christian Street. There is a fine collection of historical and religious artifacts the church has acquired over three centuries, including bronze crosses and 18th Century bibles in Swedish and English. In 1845, the formerly Swedish Lutheran congregation joined the Episcopal Church. Today the church is owned and maintained by its congregation of Episcopalians.
The church was designated a National Historic Site on November 17, 1942. It is an affiliated area of the National Park Service under Independence National Historical Park. The church site is owned and administered by the Corporation of Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.
The church cemetery includes the following interments:
- Sven Gunnarsson (d. 1678), one of the first buried at the church, a founding father of the New Sweden colony.
- John C. Hunterson, Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor recipient (issued August 2, 1897).
- William Irvine (1741–1804), Revolutionary War officer and physician.
- George Ord, Sr. (d. 1806), Revolutionary War adventurer, sea captain.
- George Ord, Jr. (1781–1866), ornithologist.
- James Peale (1749–1831), Revolutionary War officer and artist (brother of Charles Willson Peale).
- Sarah Miriam Peale (1800–1885) portrait painter, daughter of James Peale.
- Thomas Smith (d. January 29, 1846), U.S. Congressman.
- Alexander Wilson (1766–1813), ornithologist and illustrator.
- Amandus Johnson (1877–1974), Swedish-American scholar and founder of the American Swedish Historical Museum.
- List of the oldest buildings in Pennsylvania
- Laurentius Carels, Swedish American Lutheran pastor
- Holy Trinity Church (Old Swedes) in Wilmington, Delaware
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- "PHMC Historical Markers". Historical Marker Database. Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. Retrieved December 10, 2013.
- Mary Eileen O'Connor, Gloria Dei "Old Swedes" Church (Holy Philadelphia highlights region's religious diversity), Holy Philadelphia, an original WHYY program)
- G. Sjöblom, "The 75-Year-Old Gloria Dei Church and Its Predecessor 1891-1966"
- Records of Holy Trinity Church (Old Swedes') Church, Wilmington, Delaware. Separate Index, 1730.
- Williams, Rev. Dr. Kim-Eric The Eight Old Swedes' Churches of New Sweden (Wilmington, DE: New Sweden Center, 1999)
- "Philadelphia. Old Swedes Church". Work Projects Administration Poster Collection. Library of Congress. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- Ashmead, Henry Graham, History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania (Chapter II, Philadelphia: L. H. Everts & Co. 1884)
- The National Parks: Index 2001-2003. Washington: U.S. Department of the Interior
- Official website
- NPS website: Gloria Dei Church National Historic Site
- Listing, photographs, and drawings Historic American Buildings Survey
- Churches of New Sweden
- Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church Burial Ground at Find A Grave
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