Third Presbyterian Church (Chester, Pennsylvania)

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Third Presbyterian Church in 2015
Third Presbyterian Church depicted on pre-1923 postcard

The Third Presbyterian Church is a Presbyterian Church founded in 1872 in Chester, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, United States. It is located at 9th and Potter Streets; the church was the location of the first summer bible school in 1912.[1] The congregation closed in 1986 and the building is currently owned by the Chester Historical Preservation Committee,[2] it is a stone Gothic Revival building designed by the noted Philadelphia architect Isaac Pursell.[3]


The Third Presbyterian Church was built as a memorial to commemorate the reunion of the Old and New School Churches,[4] it was originally located on the southwest corner of Twelfth and Upland Streets. The lot was purchased in 1871 and a brick building was erected as a mission Sunday school of the now defunct First Presbyterian Church.[5] A division in the congregation occurred and 42 members broke off from the First Presbyterian Church and formed the Third Presbyterian Church on October 16, 1872. In July 1873, the western end of the church was removed, twenty-five feet added in length and a recess pulpit added.[6]

Dr. Abraham L. Latham, the minister of the Third Presbyterian Church, was concerned about declining church enrollment numbers and the lethargy of the congregation, he designed the first bible summer school with a five-week program for four hours each day for young people on summer vacation. The first school opened in 1912.[7] At its peak, approximately 650 to 700 students participated in the summer bible school.[8]

Mel Trotter, the American fundamentalism leader, held a two-week church campaign at the Third Presbyterian Church in the 1920s which resulted in 400 conversions.[9]

The American Theologian, Everett F. Harrison, was pastor at the Third Presbyterian Church from 1940 to 1944.[10]

The congregation peaked at mid-century only to decline as Chester experienced economic and demographic shifts in the 1970s and 1980s; the Third Presbyterian Church was unable to weather this difficult period and closed their doors in 1986.[11]

The Chester Eastside Ministries, a social service organization affiliated with the Presbytery of Philadelphia occupied the building next until 2013 when the building was found structurally unsound and too expensive to maintain; the Chester Eastside Ministries organization moved to St. Paul's Church across the street. A permit was submitted to the city for demolition, however the Chester Historical Preservation Committee intervened and in 2015 purchased the building for $1; the committee hopes to rent the Sunday school rooms as office space and use the sanctuary as a theater.[12]

The Chester Historical Preservation Committee is working with Partners for Sacred Places, the national, non-sectarian, non-profit organization whose mission is to support older and historic sacred places, to restore the Third Presbyterian Church.[11]

Notable members[edit]

John B. Hinkson, the lawyer, businessman and 6th mayor of Chester, was a member of the church and served as an elder and trustee.[13]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Chester. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. 2008. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-7385-6348-0. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  2. ^ Carey, Kathleen E. "Chester's history comes alive during Old Chester PA Day". Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  3. ^ The Brickbuilder, Volume 5. Boston: The Brickbuilding Publishing Company. January 1896. p. 136. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  4. ^ Martin, John Hill (1877). Chester (and Its Vicinity,) Delaware County, in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: Wm. H. Pile & Sons. p. 414. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  5. ^ Ashmead, Henry Graham (1883). Historical Sketch of Chester, on Delaware. Chester, PA: Republican Steam Printing House. p. 208. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  6. ^ Ashmead, Henry Graham (1884). History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts & Co. p. 347. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  7. ^ Rhoads, Gladys Titzck (2012). McIntire - Defender of Faith and Freedom. Xulon Press. p. 335. ISBN 9781619962316. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  8. ^ "Third Presbyterian Church". Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  9. ^ Zarfas, Fred C. Mel Trotter: A Biography. Solid Christian Books. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  10. ^ Balmer, Randall (2004). Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press. p. 325. ISBN 1-932792-04-X. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Asset Mapping for Chester's Third Presbyterian Church". Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  12. ^ "Chester Tries to Save Historic Church". Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  13. ^ Wiley, Samuel T. (1894). Biographical and Historical Cyclopedia of Delaware County, Pennsylvania. New York: Gresham Publishing Company. pp. 181–182. Retrieved 27 May 2018.

Coordinates: 39°51′17″N 75°21′23″W / 39.8546°N 75.3565°W / 39.8546; -75.3565