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Red Hill Church and School


The Red Hill Church and School was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination documentation. [1] Adaptation copyright © 2006, The Gombach Group.

Description

The Red Hill Church was built in 1766 and was patterned after the churches built in Europe during that era. The church is two bays by two bays with a gable roof with returns. Built of local stone and covered with stucco the walls are 19" thick. The floor boards layover massive wood beams spaced 18" to 24" apart, and are set directly in the earth.

The entrance door faces an inner court and is a round arched double door. This front facade has horizontal clapboard. Two round arched windows are located above the door on the loft level and a smaller window is located in the gable end. Windows in the side elevations are elongated 6 over 4 pane windows with rounded arches. The rear of the Church has two windows at the loft level and one in the gable end. A date stone is located under the gable end window. This was placed on the church in 1843 when the Lutherans and Reformed became the owners. The interior of the church is simple in design and decoration. The one room has a central aisle flanked by two rows of pews, a center platform (pulpit) at the rear and balconies supported by heavy square columns on three sides. Stair to the balcony are located in the rear.

An ornate iron chandelier containing eight kerosene lamps is located over the pulpit area. This chandelier is believed to have been part of the improvements made in 1843. An outside set of stone steps leading to the balcony was removed at this time also.

In recent years the exterior and interior walls have been patched and painted. Stone walls of the church cemetery abut the sides of the church. This cemetery dates from the building of the church.

Across the inner court is located is located the one story plastered stone school house which was built in 1843. The school is three bays by one bay and has a gable roof with returns. A cupola holding a bell is located on the gable ridge near the front of the building. A full-length pent porch is located on the front facade. One central door enters the building on this side. Windows are 6 over 6 and have plain frames and sills. An exterior brick chimney is located against the left side elevation.

Significance

The Red Hill Church is located on Durham Road in Tinicum Township. The land on which it is located was included in the famous "Walking Purchase" of 1737, when three men, Solomon Jennings, James Yeates, and Edward Marshall, set out from Wrightstown to walk northwestward for a day and a half. All land east of this walk would be considered purchased from the Delaware Indians. The route of the walk included what is now Old Durham Road.' Following this purchase the land was slowly cleared for settlement. New settlers were encouraged to develop the area and Tinicum Township, Bucks County in which Red Hill Church is located, was officially organized in 1737.

The first church was a log building located east of Clay Ridge Road. The church was known as the Tohickon Presbyterian Church at that time. When the growing congregation realized the need for a larger church they proposed building a larger church at the Durham Road site. This relocation was hotly debated and was put to a vote, ending in a tie. A lot was drawn to determine the location and the Durham Road faction won. This caused ill feelings causing the other faction to break off and they eventually moved to South Carolina.

Construction on the new church began in 1766 and was completed on August 1, 1769, when the first worship service was held at Red Hill Presbyterian Church. As the pioneering Scotch-Irish settlers moved westward the Red Hill Church was sold to a Lutheran and Reformed Congregation in 1843, although the Presbyterians continued to hold services in the church twice a month. At this time the new owners built the adjacent one-room schoolhouse, which was used for public education until 1958. The schoolhouse is currently used for community meetings. The Red Hill Church was shared by the Presbyterians, Lutherans and Reformed until World War I, when the Presbyterians relinquished their interest and the Lutherans and Reformed continued to hold Sunday school in the church until 1920. At that time the church was abandoned.

For over thirty years the church was vacant until in 1957 the Reverend Victor Steinberg, pastor of the Nockamixon–Tinicum charge, became interested in cleaning and reusing the church. In the summer of 1959 the first services were held in the restored Red Hill Church.

The Red Hill Church is an excellent example of the earliest form of Protestant Church architecture in this area. The interior of the church is strikingly simple and plain, showing the influence of the Protestant Reformation, when all forms of religious art and symbols were discarded. The pulpit centered platform is a true picture of early protestant worship, when reading and preaching from the Bible were the center of the worship service.

  1. Reverend Donald E. Mayer, Saint Luke's United Church of Christ, Susan M. Zacher, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Red Hill Church and School, Ottsville, Bucks County, PA, 1978, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

See Map

Street Names: Durham Road

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