Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg

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Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg
Gburg Seminary NE.JPG
The 1832 Old Dorm (now Schmucker Hall) was used as the "Seminary Hotel" for dignitaries at the 50th battle anniversary.[1]:49 A May 1914 colonial portico was added to commemorate the reunion [1] [2]
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Adams
District Gettysburg Historic
Part of
Member of
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Washington Theological Consortium[3]
Borders on Gettysburg National Military Park [4]
Borough Gettysburg[clarification needed]
Administration Valentine Hall
 - elevation 568.1 ft (173.2 m) [5]
 - coordinates 39°49′54″N 77°14′40″W / 39.83162°N 77.24433°W / 39.83162; -77.24433Coordinates: 39°49′54″N 77°14′40″W / 39.83162°N 77.24433°W / 39.83162; -77.24433 [6]
Height 125 ft (38 m) --church spire [2]
Campus 52 acres (21 ha) {[7]}
Population 113  (Postgraduate students)
10 (Academic staff)
Founded 1826
Find A Grave CRid 2342834 (1 interment) [8]
Website: - Gettysburg Seminary

The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, also known as the Gettysburg Seminary, is located in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and is one of the eight seminaries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It is one of the three seminaries in the Eastern Cluster of Lutheran Seminaries, and a member institution of the Washington Theological Consortium. Founded in 1826, it is the oldest continuing Lutheran seminary in the United States. the Gettysburg Seminary has served the church as a pioneer in theological education creating among Lutheran seminaries the first faculty position in Christian Education (1926), the first teacher in sociology and psychology (1942), and the first in stewardship (1989). Gettysburg continued to add to its trail breaking in the American scene by granting tenure to a female professor (Bertha Paulssen, 1945) and graduating (Elizabeth Platz in 1965) the first woman to be ordained by an American Lutheran church body (ordained in 1970). Gettysburg Seminary was the first Lutheran seminary to admit an African American seminarian, Daniel Alexander Payne, in 1835.

During the battle of Gettysburg, the seminary, on a ridge west of the town, became a focal point of action on the first day of battle, 1 July 1863. The seminary gave its name to 'Seminary Ridge,' where the line of battle of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia was formed on 2 and 3 July 1863.


On July 1, 1863 at 4 p.m., the Army of the Potomac was positioned at the seminary.

At the 1820 formation of the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the United States, its newly adopted constitution specified that the Synod form plans for a seminary or seminaries. Samuel Simon Schmucker, ordained in 1820, actively lobbied for the establishment of a seminary and began theological training for students in New Market, Virginia, at his parsonage. After hearing Schmucker speak in 1824 about his efforts, the Maryland-Virginia Synod recommended to the General Synod in 1825 that a seminary be established.[9]

The board of directors first met on March 2, 1826, in Hagerstown, Maryland, the first order of business being to select a site for the seminary. They rejected proposals from Carlisle, Pennsylvania (at Dickinson College) and Hagerstown[10] and the "Gettysburg Theological Seminary"[11] was established on August 1, 1826.[12] Schmucker was elected the first professor and the seminary opened with 11 students on September 5, 1826,[13] at the 1810[14] Gettysburg Academy building.[4] In 1832 the seminary moved to its first building on the ridge west of the borough[15] between Chambersburg Pike/Cashtown Road (now U.S. Route 30) to the north and Nichols Gap Road (now Fairfield Road/PA 116) to the south.

Role in the Battle of Gettysburg[edit]

The Seminary building served as a lookout on 1 July 1863, the first day of battle. From the cupola, Brig. Gen. John Buford, commanding First Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac, both observed the opening of the battle to the west of Seminary Ridge and witnessed the arrival of the I Corps under Maj. Gen. John Reynolds marching to his relief from the south.[16] By the late afternoon, the Union lines on McPherson’s Ridge, west of the seminary, were forced back to Seminary Ridge by Confederate troops of Heth's and Pender's Divisions. Before the troops could dig in on Seminary Ridge, a further attack by Pender’s Division broke the line. The I Corps streamed across Seminary Hill and through the town of Gettysburg, covered by a delaying action on the grounds by the famed Iron Brigade.[17] The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia occupied the seminary grounds and held them until the Army's retreat on 4 July 1863.

There was no further infantry combat on the seminary grounds, but it continued to play a prominent role in the battle. The seminary building had begun to be used as a field hospital for soldiers of both armies during the first day, and this continued throughout the engagement and after the battle was over.[18] Artillery was posted on the hill and participated in action against Union artillery on Culp's and Cemetery Hills on 2 and 3 July.[19][20][20] Confederate soldiers ransacked the house of seminary President Schmucker, an outspoken abolitionist. Confederate troops also used the seminary building cupola as a lookout, although there is no hard evidence that General Robert E. Lee, whose headquarters were just across the Cashtown Road to the north of the seminary, ever entered the cupola.[21]

Subsequent history[edit]

In 1868 seminary land was purchased for the Gettysburg Springs Railroad (now Springs Avenue) and the faculty expanded[clarification needed] to a 4th professor (James W. Richard) in 1889.[22] In 1895 during the battlefield commemorative era, the Gettysburg Park Commission telfordized the seminary's north-south avenue[23] (resurfaced in 1927). In 1896, the seminary had 2 academic buildings, 4 professor dwellings, a hospital, and ~38 acres (15 ha).[10] After preceding faculty chairmen beginning with Schmucker, the 1st seminary president[who?] was designated in 1906;[22] and the park commission had placed 2 Confederate 3" rifles, 2 other Confederate guns, and 2 Union 12 pounders ("False Napoleon")[4] along the avenue by 1912.[24]

The cornerstone of the Church of the Abiding Presence was laid in 1940[25] (completed 1942).[26] During the World War II labor shortage, the seminary assisted with the county's 1942 apple harvest [27] before German POWs became available, and a seminary auxiliary was organized in 1953.[28] Circa 1960 the seminary purchased the nearby Elsie Singmaster Lewars home[22] and in 1961, the Adams County Historical Society moved from the courthouse basement [29] to Old Dorm (added to the NRHP in 1974).[30] The 2011 "Crossroads Campaign" planned $1.8 million of fundraising for chapel renovations.[31]


  1. ^ Beitler, Lewis Eugene (editor and compiler) (December 31, 1913). Fiftieth Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg: Report of the Pennsylvania Commission (Report). Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Wm. Stanley Bay (state printer). Retrieved 2011-08-11 – via Google Books. 
  2. ^ Michael A. Dreese (2002). The Hospital on Seminary Ridge at the Battle of Gettysburg. McFarland & Company. p. 164. ISBN 978-0-7864-1224-2. 
  3. ^ "Member Institutions of the Washington Theological Consortium". Washington Theological Consortium. Retrieved August 15, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c Swain, Craig (October 2, 2008). "First Home of Seminary and College" ( webpage, marker 12004). Retrieved 2011-08-11. 
  5. ^ "X_Value=-77.24433 &Y_Value=39.83162". USGS Elevation Web Service Query. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2011-06-24.  External link in |work= (help)
  6. ^ Google maps
  7. ^ Borough maps of Gettysburg PA and surveys by C.S. Davidson, Engineers
  8. ^ "Lutheran Theological Seminary Memorial Garden". Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  9. ^ Gobbel, Roger with Matthews, Donald and Matthews, Elaine. On the Glorious Hill: A Short History in Word and Picture of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (subsequently 'On the Glorious Hill'). Lancaster: Pridemark Press, 1976, 5-6.(
  10. ^ a b "The Gettysburg Seminary…History and Needs" (Google News Archive). Gettysburg Compiler. August 18, 1896. Retrieved 2011-08-11. Gettysburg and the people of Adams county, including many from Hanover [in York Co.], offered $7,000 in cash, and the trustees of the old [Gettysburg] academy the use of that building. 
  11. ^ "Gettysburg Theological Seminary" (Google News Archives). The Adams Sentinel. April 23, 1928. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 
  12. ^ [Treasurer] (September 6, 1926). "Theological Seminary" (Google News Archive). The Republican Compiler. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 
  13. ^ "Gettysburg Seminary to Observe its Centenary" (Google News Archive). The Daily Times. Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. September 18, 1926. Retrieved 2011-08-11. the cupola of the seminary building was used as a lookout point by General Buford and General Reynolds 
  14. ^ Beitel, Calvin Gustavus (1874). A Digest of Titles of Corporations Chartered by the Legislature … (Google books). J. Campbell & son. Retrieved 2011-11-22. 
  15. ^ Joswick, Dave (editor) (February–March 2008). "Buford's View: July 1, 1863 (advertisement)". The Gettysburg Companion. Times and News Publishing Company. p. 16.  External link in |work= (help);
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b
  21. ^
  22. ^ a b c "[tbd newspaper article][specify]". The Gettysburg Times (Google News Archive). Times and News Publishing Company. 1963. Old Dorm was used as an observation post first by General Reynolds 
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Lay Conerstone On New Seminary Chapel; Elect Dr. Wentz 7th President". Gettysburg Compiler. Sep 21, 1940. Retrieved 25 November 2016 – via Google News Archive Search. 
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Faculty, Students Help with Crops". The Windsor Daily Star. Sep 19, 1942. Retrieved 25 November 2016 – via Google News Archive Search. 
  28. ^ "Auxiliary of Seminary will be organized". The Star and Sentinel. Apr 18, 1953. Retrieved 25 November 2016 – via Google News Archive Search. 
  29. ^ "Railroads are subject for Historians". The Star and Sentinel. May 1, 1943. Retrieved 25 November 2016 – via Google News Archive Search. 
  30. ^ "Headquarters: Brief History of Schmucker Hall". Adams County Historical Society. Retrieved 2010-06-01. 
  31. ^ "Gettysburg Seminary Announces Matching Gift Opportunity". Upper Susquehanna Synod. Archived from the original on 2012-03-30. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 

External links[edit]