St. Paul's Episcopal Church, South Bass Island

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St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Basic information
Geographic coordinates41°39′07″N 82°49′22″W / 41.651868°N 82.822892°W / 41.651868; -82.822892Coordinates: 41°39′07″N 82°49′22″W / 41.651868°N 82.822892°W / 41.651868; -82.822892
AffiliationEpiscopal Church in the United States of America
Architectural description
Architectural typeChurch
Architectural styleCarpenter Gothic
MaterialsBoard and Baton
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
St. Paull's PIB Put-in-Bay - winter 2012.jpg
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Location623 Catawba Ave. (at Lakeview), Put-in-Bay, Ohio
ChurchmanshipVia Media
Architect(s)Upjohn; Builder, unknown
DeaneryNorth Central Mission Area
DioceseEpiscopal Diocese of Ohio
Priest(s)The Rev. Mary L. Staley[1]

St. Paul's Episcopal Church is an historic Episcopal church and the oldest surviving religious structure in Put-in-Bay, Ohio. It is located at Catawba Ave and Lakeview Dr. Episcopal Church (United States).

1865 Episcopal Congregation Established[edit]

St. Paul's Episcopal Church was built by the congregation formed on South Bass Island in 1864 with the assistance of Jay Cooke.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church in the village of Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island in Lake Erie was established in the fall 1864 by The Rev. John Miles Kendrick and the local residents. They started out meeting in the school. Over the winter they raised funds to build a church building. In May 1865, at the close of the Civil War, philanthropist Jay Cooke purchased the property where the church sits and contributed to the building fund. The Carpenter Gothic church was completed in October 1865. It appears to have been built from a design in the book Rural Architecture by architect Richard Upjohn. The first service was attended by the new congregation and several guests including Salmon P. Chase, Jay Cooke, and the Rev Parvin, who was the first rector of St. Paul's, Elkins Park PA,[2] where Jay Cooke was a vestry member.[3] After serving the parish for three years Rev Kendrick moved to larger churches and became the Bishop of the Episcopal Missionary Diocese of Arizona and New Mexico in 1889.[4]

As the only church on the island, the parish served the entire community. Several years later a Roman Catholic congregation was established. Today there are two still churches on the island.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church is one of the oldest churches in continuous use in Ohio. St. Paul's is believed to be the oldest wooden church in use as a church in Ohio. It is located just 3 blocks south of the downtown area of the village of Put-in-Bay, South Bass Island, Ohio. Many of the churches Jay Cooke helped build in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan were named for Saint Paul, which was the name of the church he attended in Philadelphia.

The rectory, known as "The Hartman House" is next door at 619 Catawba. The "Hartman House," was built in 1959-1963 replaced the original 1865 rectory. The Hartman house is named for Marylib Vrooman Hartman whose estate made a large contribution to build the house in the 1950s which was matched by the parishioners. The Vrooman family were some of the original merchants on Put-in-Bay.

Reformed Episcopal Church 1869-1912[edit]

Winter 1868-69 Ohio Bishop Charles P. MaIlvaine wrote to Rev S. R. Weldon, the Rector with instructions about the form of worship he should have and the venture he should wear based on a letter from a fall visitor describing Mr Weldon's inconsistencies with Episcopal practices.

Spring 1869 – Rev Weldon chose to leave the Episcopal church instead of following the Bishop's guidance. Mr Jay Cooke did not discourage Mr Weldon's decision. (He did not encourage it either) Jay Cooke was very active in the Episcopal church throughout his life, primarily in Philadelphia he also served on two National committees.

20 June 1869 – Church members voted to withdraw from the Episcopal Church and formed themselves as a Congregational Church but continued to worship using the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. This decision was related to their rector's attraction to the theology and doctrine of Bishop Cummings (An Episcopalian who would go on to create the Reformed Episcopal Church in 1873).

1869–1889 the parish was led by independent ministers.

1873—Following the Civil War there was disagreement over the wording and understanding of the Baptismal Service leading to the formation of "The Reformed Episcopal Church" by Bishop [George David Cummins | George David Cummins]. Evangelical Episcopalians disturbed by High Church Tractarianism formed their own voluntary societies and continued to work in interdenominational agencies.[5] One of the active supporters of the creation of the Reformed Episcopal Church was St. Paul's rector, the Rev S. R. Weldon.

1875 – St Paul's affiliated with the Reformed Episcopal Church 1912 – The church returned to the Protestant Episcopal Church at the same time [Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial | Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial] was built. On Oct 25, 1912 the Episcopal Bishop's visitation marking the return 1914 - documents were signed completing the formal return to the Episcopal church.

Stained glass[edit]

St Paul's has a number of stained glass windows from the early 1900s.

A large stained glass window behind the altar was created by Francis D. Sweeney, other were placed in the church by the families of devoted church members.

The "Follow Me" Window (Over the Altar) Matthew 4:19: In 1902 Mrs. Charles D. Barney (Laura L.), daughter of Jay Cooke presented the altar window as a memorial to her mother with this inscription '

"To the Glory of God, and in loving memory of
Dorothea Elizabeth Allen Cooke, Born 1828 died 1871
He saith unto them: Follow Me"
-St. Mat. 4-19.

The grape vine laden with purple grapes and the fishermen with their net were selected based on their role as the products of the island, as well as the symbolic meaning from scripture. The window depicts the scene of Christ's call to the fishermen, showing Him seated beneath a gnarled grape vine bearing fruit near the sea, earnestly conversing with Peter and Andrew, who with their net are sitting in front of Jesus with characteristically eager faces, displaying the impetuosity of the former and the sincerity of the latter as they yield to the Lord's call in the spirit of worldly renunciation. The face of Christ is strikingly beautiful in its ardent earnestness and yearning desire for the partnership with those two fishermen.

The artist, Mrs Frances "Fanny" D Sweeny of Philadelphia who was an instructor of Stained Class and proprietor of her own business at the time this was created.

Current history 1916-2012[edit]

St. Paul's continues to serve the residents and visitors to South Bass Island. Services are held all year around. The clergy of the parish also minister to residents of North Bass and Middle Bass.


In 1933–1970' A summer camp on South Bass Island for Episcopal and Anglican choristers. Named Wa-Li-Ro after Ohio Episcopal Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Walter Lincoln Rodgers, Thousands of boys participated in the camp that honed their skills as choisters. Their choir practice took place at St. Paul's Episcopal Church. The boys walked to the church from their dormitory to practice twice each day.

Boys would come from all over the United States to attend the camp. In later years there was a week set aside for girl choirsters as well. In addition to the singing the boys spent time canoeing, fishing, swimming and hiking.

Wa-Li-Ro was led by many well known composers, choir directors and musicians. Directors included representatives from the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM), one of these was Gerald Knight who was the director of the RSCM 1952 to 1972. (his records are located at the Colles Reference Library on the close of Salisbury Cathedral). Paul Allen Beymer was the director of the camp for many years

Leo Sowerby (May 1, 1895 – July 7, 1968) made regular trips to the camp for many years. Leo Sowerby was an American composer and church musician, was the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1946, Each year he wrote an anthem for Wa-Li-Ro. "Themes and Variations (Wa-Li-Ro) H-472 is an organ solo piece still being played (but the music is difficult to locate!). Sowerby died in Port Clinton, Ohio during one of his visits to the Wa-Li-Ro camp.

Noted members and worshipers[edit]

  • Philip Vroman First settler of Put-in-Bay in 1843 and was a long time member of the Vestry and Senior Warden of this church. There is a stained glass window in his honor, on the eastern wall of the church.
  • Mathias Burggraf Jr., a grape grower who served as church treasurer for many years.
  • Jay Cooke who supported the church for many years.
  • Laura Cooke Barney and her husband Charles D. Barney who supported the church for many years.

Parish records[edit]

The records of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Put-in-Bay, Ohio, were transferred for microfilming to the Center for Archival Collections, Bowling Green State University in October 1984, with the cooperation of Reverend Neilson Rudd who was St Paul's rector at the time. The Bowling Green copies consists of copies of parish record books dating from 1865-1962, which include histories, financial abstracts, lists of communicants, baptisms, marriages, deaths and confirmations, as well as a church constitution and two letters regarding this church's membership in the Ohio Diocese.[6]

Parish Records from 1864 to 1965 can be found in: Grace Luebke Local History Room Material Holdings Harris-Elmore Public Library 328 Toledo Street (P.O. Box 45) Elmore, OH 43416 These Records include: Constitution April 10, 1908 Correspondence October 22, 1912, July 30, 1952 Record Book 1865-1962


  1. ^ "Welcome to Church Publishing :: Clergy / Parish Finder". Retrieved 2012-05-09.
  2. ^ "St Pauls History". Retrieved 2012-05-09.
  3. ^ The York Road by Rev. S. F. Hotchkin pg 132 ISBN 1177279746
  4. ^ "Episcopal Bishops of the Diocese of the Rio Grande". Retrieved 2012-05-09.
  5. ^ Bass, Diana. Standing Against the Whirlwind : Evangelical Episcopalians in Nineteenth-Century America. ISBN 0195085426.
  6. ^ "BGSU :: Center for Archival Collections :: St. Paul's Episcopal Church (Put-in-Bay, Ohio) - MS 387 mf". 1912-10-22. Retrieved 2012-05-09.

Further reading[edit]

  • Pollard, James (1935). The Journal of Jay Cooke Or The Gibraltar Records, 1865-1905. Ohio State University Press. ISBN 125815904X. – Contains copies of some key documents and reflections on the sermons of various ministers at St Paul's.
  • Dodge, John (1986). Island Splendor.[verification needed]
  • Island Splendor by Robert Dodge talks about the development of the Church in Chapter 2. Articles about Jay Cooke also mention St. Paul's.
  • The University of Virginia has some letters written by Laura Cooke Barney in the 1860s. There are a few brief references to St. Paul's in her letters.
  • The archives of the Diocese of Ohio has some records which may be seen by appointment. The Diocesan newspaper called Church Life has short articles about the parish beginning with the editions published in 1912.
  • The archives of the Reformed Episcopal Church may contain information about the years from 1869 to 1912.

External links[edit]