Hokey church holds Victorian celebration
To celebrate its 150th anniversary this year, First Presbyterian Church of Hokendauqua held a Victorian open house Dec. 15. Visitors were welcomed in to tour the 3005 S. Front St. premises and view a display of artifacts collected from the church’s extensive archives.
The congregation itself actually traces its origins back more than 160 years to 1855, when seven members of First Presbyterian Church of Catasauqua left to form a church in Hokendauqua. Among these founding members were Samuel Thomas — son of David Thomas of Thomas Iron Works — and his wife, Rebecca.
This newly organized parish did not complete construction of its own church building until Sept. 26, 1869.
In the 150 years since the building’s completion, First Presbyterian Church of Hokendauqua has maintained an archive of books, notes, photos and artifacts, many of which were shown at the church’s Victorian open house.
The largest item was a quilt the congregation of 1940 made for its pastor at the time, the Rev. Harold Meyers. An image of the church is embroidered into the quilt, along with the names of the entire congregation.
The quilt remained in the possession of the Meyers family for some time, eventually being passed down to one of the reverend’s children. Since then, it wound up in an Ohio quilting store. The owners of the store contacted First Presbyterian Church of Hokendauqua and had the quilt returned home.
The display also included old leather-bound Bibles, as well as several notebooks kept by the Rev. James A. Little, who served the church from 1869 to 1917.
The church has preserved the blueprints for the original building and its renovations. Plans for the original 1,800-pound steeple were displayed alongside blueprints for the current and much smaller steeple, which was built in 1953.
One of the most-prized items on display was the original silver communion set, which was purchased through donations from the Thomas family when the church was first founded.
Remarkably, much of the building’s main architecture has remained the same after all this time. The church has been very well maintained and updated throughout its life. Aside from the steeple and the addition of the Sunday school wing in the 1950s, the church itself has not gone through any major changes since its construction. Its shape and silhouette have remained largely the same. Despite its age, it can be just as easily identified in a current photo as it can be in the 80-year-old embroidery.