Gaston Presbyterian Church

green bar

11th Street and Lehigh Avenue

Gaston Presbyterian Church

In 1845 a man by the name of Daniel Gaston became the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Cohocksink on Germantown and Huntington Avenues. Gaston was known for his “untiring zeal” which persisted until passed away in April of 1865. Rev. Mutchmore, Gaston’s successor, set out to organize a mission band, inspiring a group of men and boys to come together to create a constitution that created the Gaston Memorial Missionary Society. The Gaston Presbyterian Sunday School was created in 1875 and the Church was moved in 1876 at 11th and Cumberland. They later moved operations to Germantown and Huntington in 1876, then finally to their current home at 11th and Lehigh in 1883. It was here that the First Christian Endeavor Society in Pennsylvania was formed, which has since branched out to create 4 societies. On January 24, 1930 a fire destroyed the Church, and a new 15th Century Gothic Style church broke ground in May of that year. As noted in their Golden Jubilee 50th anniversary pamphlet: “If we want the Church to come to spiritual power, we must rebuild churches that, by reason of massive stability, richness, splendor, voiceful pictures on windows, shall be worthy of acceptance as temples of God, and show forth of men the mystery and sublimity of faith, satisfy stifled cravings for art and beauty, and lift them into the exhaustion of spiritual conviction.” On March 15th, 1931 the New Gaston Presbyterian Church opened its doors.  Just a few short years later the Gaston Church was a site of controversy amidst the fight to end school segregation. In 1864 the local Clymer School was overcrowded, and 191 students were sent to Gaston Church, where makeshift classrooms were set up. The Church was picketed over 8 times, protesting the use of the church for school classes. Some picketers' signs read “The church is a foundation but not for segregation” and “We’re sick of being treated as second class citizens.” At that time, the Philadelphia chapter NAACP president Cecil B Moore revealed that, although there were 195 vacancies at the local Muhl School, students from Clymer School were placed in this Church because the Board of Education refused to allow Clymer students to relocate to Muhl. 

Works Cited

  1. Philadelphia Buildings and Architects. “Gaston Presbyterian Church.” https://www.philadelphiabuildings.org/pab/app/pj_display.cfm/117320.
  2. The Philadelphia Inquirer Public Ledger (1934-1969). "December 9, 1963 (Page 8 of 48).", Dec 09 1963, p. 8. ProQuest. Web. 1 Apr. 2021 
  3. The Philadelphia Inquirer Public Ledger (1934-1969). "February 25, 1964 (Page 6 of 42)." , Feb 25 1964, p. 6. ProQuest. Web. 1 Apr. 2021 .
  4. Golden Jubilee Gaston Presbyterian Church (1925), Folder 52: Churches (By Name): Gaston Presbyterian, George D. McDowell Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Photograph Collection, Philadelphia Subjects, SCRC 170B, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Historic Sites
Gaston Presbyterian Church