Free Library of Philadelphia
1.  What was the first Methodist church for African Americans established in the northern United States?

Mother Bethel Church, founded in August 1794, was the first Methodist church in the North to be organized by African Americans. It was founded by Richard Allen, a former slave, at 6th and Lombard Street in Philadelphia.

Source: Famous First Facts: A Record of First Happenings, Discoveries, and Inventions in American History, 1997, p.482, Joseph Nathan Kane, 031.02 K132F 5th ED

2.  Which was the first Catholic church built specifically for a Chinese congregation in the United States?
Holy Redeemer at 10th & Vine Sts., Philadelphia was the first Roman Catholic church and school built specifically for a Chinese congregation in the United States. It was built in 1941.

Source: Phila. Daily News, 7/13/92
3.  During the 18th century, where in North America was the only place in the British Empire that a Roman Catholic Mass could be publicly celebrated?
Due to Penn's policy of religious toleration, Mass was held in Philadelphia at old St. Joseph's Church on Willing's Alley. At least once, Quakers stood in front of the church to protect it from an anti-Catholic mob.

Source: Philadelphia: The Fabulous City of Firsts, 1976, p.20, G. Don Fairbairn, 974.81 F15p
4.  What was the first, already-existing church in the United States, to call itself Unitarian?
The First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia takes that honor. It was organized in 1793 by Joseph Priestly, and in 1886 moved into its present home on Chestnut Street.

Source: FWP. Philadelphia. A Guide to the Nations Birthplace. 1974, p.169
5.  Where is the oldest unaltered Lutheran church in the United States?
The oldest unaltered Lutheran Church in the United States is the Augustus Lutheran Church in Trappe, Pennsylvania. It was built in 1743.

Source: Bulletin Almanac and Yearbook, 1976, p.95, 917.481 B87 1976
6.  What is the name of the church on Rittenhouse Square?

Holy Trinity Episcopal Church was built in 1859. It has a seating capacity of 1,400 and is often used for concerts. It is located at the northwest corner of 19th and 20th Street.

Source: Fairmount Park, a History and Guidebook, 1974, p.156, Esther M. Klein, 917.481 K672f

7.  Is there any relic of St. Patrick in Philadelphia?
St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church on 20th and Locust Streets in Philadelphia has for a cornerstone a rock from Armagh, Ireland, from which St. Patrick is said to have preached.

Source: Philadelphia Bulletin Almanac, 1976, p.284.
8.  Franklin helped raise funds for what famous Philadelphia church?
Christ Church, which stands on 2nd just north of Market Street, was built between 1727 and 1754. Benjamin Franklin organized three lotteries to provide funds for its completion. It is now a National Shrine.

Source: Bulletin Almanac and Yearbook, 1976, p.293, 917.481 B87 1976
9.  Where is the birthplace of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States?
At Christ Church in Philadelphia, between 1785 and 1789, the Episcopal Church in the United States was established. In 1789 the first meeting of the House of Bishops was held at Christ Church.

Source: Philadelphia Bulletin Almanac, 1976, p.293
10.  Who were some of the Revolutionary leaders who attended Christ Church?

If you visit Christ Church, you will find markers showing the pews where George Washington, Robert Morris, Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross once sat. The church is now a National Shrine.



Source: Philadelphia Bulletin Almanac, 1976, p.293
11.  Where is the world's oldest Methodist edifice in continious use?
St. George's Methodist Church on North 4th Street was purchased in 1769. It housed the first annual Conference of Methodist Preachers in 1773. In 1951 the Methodist Historical Center was built next to it.

Source: Philadelphia Bulletin Almanac, 1976, p.293
12.  What is the oldest church in Philadelphia?

The Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Church is the oldest church in Philadelphia in continuous use. Joseph Yard and John Harrison began work on the Swedish Lutheran Church from 1698 to 1700. It is located at Columbus Blvd. and Christian Street.

Source: Historic Sacred Places of Philadelphia, 2005, p.34-35, Roger W. Moss, 726.5097 M855H, See Also the Gloria Dei (Old Swedes) Church website.

13.  On what site in Philadelphia has the Roman Catholic Mass been celebrated for over 260 years?
This site is the at the present location of St. Joseph's Church on Willing's Alley, south of 4th Street. In 1838 the present St. Joseph's was built; there were two earlier versions, one built in 1733, and another in 1757.

Source: Philadelphia Bulletin Almanac, 1976, p294
14.  Where in The United States was the first church for Italian-speaking people founded?
It was founded in South Philadelphia in 1852 by Bishop John Newmann, and is called St. Magdalene de Pazzi Roman Catholic Church.

Source: Philadelphia Bulletin Almanac, 1976, p 392
15.  What is the Chapel of Four Chaplains?
It memorializes four chaplains (Methodist, Reformed, Jewish and Catholic) who, on the sinking troopship Dorchester in World War II, handed out all the lifebelts, including their own. They drowned with arms linked.

Source: Philadelphia Bulletin Almanac, 1976, p. 393
16.  Where is the Chapel of Four Chaplains?
Dedicated in 1951, it was at Broad and Berks Streets in Philadelphia. It closed in 1990 for repairs and in 1999 moved to Valley Forge.

Source: Philadelphia Bulletin Almanac, 1976, p.393
17.  Where in Philadelphia is there a church with a wing made out of grindstones?

The Tacony Baptist Church added a wing in 1915 to the original 1884 structure. The wing was built from discarded grindstones from the Disston Saw Works.

Source: Workshop of the World: A Selective Guide to the Industrial Archeology of Philadelphia, 1990, p.8:9, The Oliver Evans Chapter of The Society for Industrial Archeology, 900 W892o

18.  What was the first Jewish congregation in Philadelphia?

It is believed that in the 1740s a small group of Jews began holding services in a house on Sterling Alley. Mikveh Israel was the first synagogue, and construction began in 1782. It was originally supposed to have been built on Sterling Alley, but protests from the Protestant community lead the Jewish leaders to build the synagogue on Cherry Alley (North of High Street) between Third and Fourth Streets. Today it is located between Arch and Market at Fourth Street.

Source: Jewish Life in Philadelphia 1830-1940, 1983, p.291-292, Murray Friedman, 974.811 J556L, and The Mikveh Israel website.

19.  What church in Rome, Italy served as the model for the Roman Catholic Cathedral of S.S. Peter and Paul which stands on Logan Square and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia?

This large structure, which was built from 1846-64, is based on the Lombard Church of St. Charles. Napoleon Le Brun and George Notman designed it, putting a vaulted ceiling 80 feet above the seating capacity for 2,000.

Source: Fairmount Park, a History and Guidebook, 1974, p.112, Esther M. Klein, 917.481 K672f

20.  When did the Society of Friends build its Meeting House at 4th and Arch Street?

William Penn granted the Quakers land in 1701 for the Quakers to use as a cemetery. Owen Biddle designed the meeting house. The Arch Street Meeting is Biddle’s principal monument. The east wing and center building were built in 1803-1805. The west wing was completed in 1811.

Source: Historic Sacred Places of Philadelphia, 2005, p.48-49, Roger W. Moss, 726.5097 M855H, See Also the Arch Street Friends website.