Moravian church - scribbler

Moravian artist Nicholas Garrison Jr. painted the earliest existing view of Lancaster in 1757. The original Moravian church stands at center left, facing West Orange Street. The cupola of Lancaster’s first courthouse in Centre Square rises at far left.

Dear Dr. Scribblerorange:

I’m reading a 1954 book by Marion Wallace Reninger called “Orange Street.” There is a photo in the book of a Moravian church with a memorial plaque on it to Ann Wood Henry. Where is the church and do you know who Ann Henry may be?

Larry Woods


Dear Larry:

The short answers to your questions, Larry, are: the church is in church heaven and Ann Henry was the first female government official in Lancaster County.

Longer answer on the church: The Moravian congregation maintained a stone building at 30 W. Orange St. from 1746 to 1967. A brick church, encompassing part of the old edifice, was built in 1820.

This church remained the Lancastrian Moravians’ Sunday home until 1967, when the congregation moved to Manheim Township. Five years ago, the congregation moved back to Lancaster — 227 N. Queen St.

A stone marker designating where the Moravian cemetery was located from 1742 to 1917 reclines in the Lancaster Post Office parking lot, near Prince Street.

Longer answer on Ann Wood Henry: She was the spouse of Lancaster ironmonger and merchant William Henry and assumed her husband’s duties as county treasurer after he died in 1786. She was appointed to serve several additional terms.

If you want to read more about the riotous origin of the Lancaster Moravian Church, check out the article “Lutherans in Lancaster, 1745-1746: The Diary of Laurentius Nyberg” in the current issue of the The Journal of Lancaster County’s Historical Society.

Dear Dr. Scribblerduke:

Do you know the history of the church that used to be at the corner of Duke and Orange streets that was torn down in the early 1980s to make way for condos/offices? I seem to remember that the heavy stone gargoyles disappeared during the demolition. Were they ever recovered?

Wesley Scott


Dear Wesley:

Steeple House Commons, which has stood at that corner since 1981, replaced St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, built there in 1902. The church’s demolition was controversial because of its location at an intersection of historic buildings.

The fate of the gargoyles is a mystery.

Dear Dr. Scribblerapho:

I recently came across news of an 1882 tragedy that occurred during the construction of a church building in Rapho Township. The church was called Stern’s meeting house at the time, but it’s now Chiques Church of the Brethren, located on the Elizabethtown Road between Elizabethtown and Manheim. Maybe you can find out more about the story.

Ron Mease


Dear Ron:

Tragedy indeed! At least three men died and as many as 40 were injured when a new, larger church structure collapsed on its builders 137 years ago.

The accident occurred on Saturday, May 27, 1882, while about 100 men of a Dunkard congregation were working on the project. A Lancaster Intelligencer Journal reporter related details of the disaster May 29.

The building had been framed and the first floor laid. About 50 men were constructing a heavy timber on the second floor, about 16 feet above the first, when everything gave way  “with a loud crash and so suddenly that very few had time to get out of the falling timber’s course.”

John Shenk was one of the men on the upper floor. “What are you doing up so high?” a bystander yelled up to him? “I want to see the world once,” he shouted. According to the Intell reporter, “the last word was hardly uttered when the accident happened which ushered him into eternity.”

Jack Brubaker, retired from the LNP staff, writes "The Scribbler'' column every Wednesday. He welcomes comments and contributions at