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Old St. Luke’s Church, built in 1852, receives historical marker

Wednesday, July 18, 2001

By Bob Podurgiel
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Chartiers Valley 10th-graders Heather Drudy and Nicole Striner joined amid smoke and thunder echoing from successive volleys of musket and rifle fire Sunday to honor a very old historic landmark.

The pair unveiled a Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission marker commemorating Old St. Luke’s Church in Scott.

More than 100 people attended the dedication featuring remarks by the Rev. Leroy Patrick of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; the Rev. Robert B. Banse, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon; state Sen. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair; state Rep. Tom Stevenson, R-Mt. Lebanon; and the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.

A Revolutionary War re-enactor from the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment of the Continental Line and Civil War re-enactors from Company A, 9th Pennsylvania Reserves, fired volleys from their muskets and smooth bore rifles.

The Rev. Richard W. Davies of Mt. Lebanon, the vicar at Old St. Luke’s Church, said he was surprised and delighted when Murphy’s office told him last year the church had been approved for a historical marker.

For 13 years since retiring as an administrator with the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, he has helped preserve Old St. Luke’s and its history and to maintain the church as an active worship site.

He said that last year the church hosted two dozen religious worship services and 40 Christian weddings.

“I’m a priest, so I’m dedicated to theology, but in the past 13 years, I have come to love American history as well,” Davies said.

Striner and Drudy credited him with helping them learn more about American history last year when they were in ninth grade and visited Old St. Luke’s as part of their school course work.

The students said they studied the lives of Russell Stuart and Jane Williams, two people buried in the church’s cemetery.

“It gave us an appreciation of how people lived back then. It really opened our eyes to the history of the area,” Drudy said.

The burial ground at Old St. Luke’s contains the remains of several Revolutionary War veterans and many of the first Chartiers Valley settlers.

Davies said worship began at the site when it was an outpost of the British Army prior to the Revolutionary War, and chaplains to regiments stationed there conducted the services.

One of them, Maj. William Lea, who settled in the Chartiers Valley, donated the land for the church.

In 1790, a frame church was built on the site, and in 1852, the present stone church was constructed.

During Sunday’s ceremony, McCollom called the church a shining example of how people can pull together to restore and preserve significant old buildings.

While Davies is happy the church finally has received a historical marker, he also credits modern technology as an unlikely ally in helping with that effort.

After he was notified about the marker, he said the toughest job was back-and-forth communication between the history commission and himself over wording that would appear on the marker.

“If it wasn’t for e-mail and the Internet, we might still be working on it. The computer helped speed things along,” he said.

Bob Podurgiel is a free-lance writer.

This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. © Pittsburgh Post Gazette

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