Cleveland Reboot

Old Stone Church

Old Stone Church

The Old Stone Church is located in Cleveland, Ohio. It was built in 1855 by the architects Heard & Porter; Schweinfurth, Charles. It is the second church to be built within the city limits and is the oldest building on Public Square. The Union Sunday School began meeting on the site of the current church in June 1819 and on September 19, 1820 a charter establishing the congregation were signed by fifteen Clevelanders.

It was incorporated formally in 1827 as the First Presbyterian Society and the first church was built out of gray sandstone in 1834. Because of the materials used in building the church, First Presbyterian was known as "the Stone Church," and because the other stone churches were built in the same area, it came to be known as “Old Stone Church.”


Church got struck with the fire after nineteen months of its establishment on March 7, 1857. Hand pumped fire engines tried to extinguish the fire, but water was unable to reach the 250-foot steeple that crashed down onto Ontario Street. Although the church remained mostly intact, and reconstruction of the church began immediately and was rededicated on January 17, 1858. Fire struck the church second time on January 5, 1884 which spread to the church from Wick Building's Park Theater adjoined to the church. Despite the strong construction, the interiors of the building were gutted.

After suffering from the series of the fire, the congregation considered to build the church on E. 55Th Street and Euclid Avenue, but ultimately decided to keep the original location. After pressure from the influence members including John Hay, it was decided to reconstruct the church under the supervision of architect Charles Schweinfurth and was dedicated on October 19, 1884. Consecutive changes were made to the church by adding a Holktamp Organ Company organ, a triple window made by the painter John La Farge, and three Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass windows made by artist Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Old Stone Church supported inner city ministries such as the Home for the Friendless (became part of Cleveland City Hospital later) and Goodrich House (later known as GOODRICH-GANNETT NEIGHBOURHOOD CENTER). Senior pastors like Rev. HIRAM C. HAYDN, retired pastor emeritus provided the community leadership. The Cleveland Presbyterian Union formed to extend church work under his leadership. Many churches like Bethel (1835), First Presbyterian of Brooklyn (1835), Lakewood (1912), Windermere (1892), NORTH PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (1870), Bolton Ave.(1892), CALVARY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (1892), Trinity (1894) and Second Presbyterian (1837) were spawned by Old Stone Church.

The Old Stone Church stood virtually unchanged to this day, and is the last remaining church which was designed by the Heard and Porter architectural firm. The only modification to the church was the addition of a steeple, conservation of the La Farge window and cleaning the Berea sandstone in 1998. In 1973, the church was added to the National Register of Historic Places.




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