Take a look back at Franklin County’s history through news and photos that appeared in local newspapers 25, 50, and 100 years ago on Feb. 28th.
25 Years Ago
February 28, 1995 – Tuesday
“St Paul members: Save the windows”
Fragile glassworks of human suffering and everlasting life that stood in St. Paul United Methodist Church for almost a century will be restored.
The congregation has decided to salvage as many of the stained-glass windows as possible from the ruins of a fire that gutted the red brick church at Second and Queen streets.
“I’m deeply grieved at the loss of art,” said the Rev. Dr. Harold Posey, St. Paul pastor. “I would feel that way about any piece of art, especially when they have carried so much religious meaning for so many people.
They were marvelous expressions of the art of that time. Church members continue to lament the damage: large, jagged holes where firefighters knocked through a flying angel to contain the flames; brittle lead frames melted by the heat; and scattered pieces of colored glass that, when illuminated, bonded the congregation in spirit.
The fire, which began in the early morning of Feb. 19, is considered suspicious. An investigation is still in progress.
Ernest Saltzer and Son, Harrisburg, has been hired to remove the valuable windows, many of which date to 1896, and haul them to their studio for storage.
Some windows that Posey particularly hopes can be restored: the window showing Jesus comforting the prodigal son; Jesus reading as a young man in the temple; and the Good Shepherd, which is 90 intact.
One of the largest disappointments to church members is the Dorcas window, dedicated to the late “Aunt Elizabeth” Keagey of Chambersburg. Like the biblical figure Dorcas, whose good deeds were commemorated in the window, Keagey took bread and soup to poor families.
The lead frame is mangled, and pieces of glass jut from the side of the building.
Meanwhile, wrecking crews are dismantling the rest of the heavily damaged church, trying to make the area safer. Windows that cannot be removed now will be covered and taken out later.
“Stained glass is sort of a dying art form,” said the Rev. Albert Myers, executive director of Pennsylvania Council of Churches. “I think the church owes it to the larger community to maintain and restore that beautiful art form in the local neighborhood.
“Many modern churches can’t afford the kind of stained glass we had in our older churches,” Myers said.
The windows are insured under the church’s building policy. Posey did not know how much it would cost to restore the windows, nor how long it might take.
Posey said he does not know what the church will do with the restored windows, but building a new church around them would be difficult.
“Often, to get anything comparable to what they had, you’re usually talking over $ 100,000 to do a church full of windows,” said Peter Green of the Renaissance Studio in Connecticut. He has restored stained glass from churches, businesses and homes for 24 years.”
When those windows were made, in the late 1800s, labor was a lot cheaper then, there were more people around who knew how to make windows.”
Most of the 66 stained-glass windows, some a prominent part of recent worship services, were constructed in 1896. Some of the larger ones were not touched by the fire.
Others have only 30% of their original structure left. Each Sunday last summer, Posey preached about the history of one window and the religious symbolism in it.
“These windows are treasured by everybody,” Posey said. “Almost everybody would feel that they must be preserved somehow, somewhere.”
50 Years Ago
February 28, 1970 – Friday
“Graduated Friday Night”
100 Years Ago
February 28, 1920 – Saturday
“Present Year Is For Opportunity For Baseball In Town”
By Getting Field Support Will Be A Feature
The canvassers for the fund to place a Chambersburg team in the Blue Ridge League have become combining subscriptions from all sections of the town. “Pop” Henninger, who is pulling hard for a team here, yesterday stated:
“If the shop men come through and the owners of the several Industries come through and the sport-hungry fans come through, the amount of money needed to make a baseball plant and put a team in the Blue Ridge League will be easy. You have been howling that you want the game. One way to get it is to carry your subscription to the collectors. Don’t ask only a few to do all the hard work and pulling. Get off the dead line. Get into the bleachers and enjoy life.
“If we can get enough of the mazuma to place a baseball plant in the south end of the Wolf field, baseball will be a permanent sport and pleasure in Chambersburg for years. A second good baseball field, will make the game self-supporting here.
“Whenever you are sincerely pleased you are nourished. Baseball always means the best kind of pleasure. It is better than anything you can get interested in. It is a great tonic for the nerves. We know some people that need it.
“The opportunity is right at our door to do something to make baseball a permanent support in our city for years. All it costs is a good baseball field at home. If we can raise the money this year to do that, the game can be conducted in the future with little trouble financially.
“This is the year of baseball opportunity. Do, you want it? You say you do, then prove it by being a liberal subscriber. If you fail to do your part don’t howl if we go up in the air. Thursday night’s meeting will tell the tale. Be there and show your interest.
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