The oldest building in Cleveland’s Public Square has been standing for over 190 years. It’s made of stone and is often referred to as the Old Stone Church. The First Presbyterian Church of Cleveland was constructed in 1855.
It is the last remaining building designed by the Heard and Porter Architectural firm. The Heard and Porter firm designed blocks and blocks of Cleveland’s architecture including schools, commercial buildings, and several residences.
One of the most amazing features of the Old Stone Church aside from its stone structure is it’s stained glass windows. The windows have been installed at different points throughout the church’s history, but the first two sets were installed in 1855. One known as the Amasa Stone Window, entitled titled “Benevolence, was installed in memory of Amasa Stone. Amasa Stone donated his services and a lot of money to the church and to Cleveland. In 2000 this window went through a restoration. It overlooks Public Square.
The second window installed in 1855 was designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. It was a gift from the Williamson family in memory of Samuel Williamson Jr. In 2005, “The Recording Angel” as it is known, went through a full restoration in which it was completely disassembled. The broken glass was replaced as well as the lead between the glass pieces where time had taken its toll.
“Beside the Still Water” was given by the family of Samuel A. Raymond in his memory and designed again by Louis Comfort Tiffany. This window is mainly blues and greens and a comforting scene inspired by the 23rd Psalm. When this piece of artwork went through a restoration in 2007, restoration workers found the Tiffany Co. name at the bottom of the window. It had been covered by a window frame. When they finished the restoration, they left the newly discovered name visible.
“Christ Blessing Little Children” or the Clark Memorial Window was donated by Mrs. Washington Tyler in memory of her parents, James and Eliza Clark. Mrs. Clark also donated the baptismal font to the church as well as left them their first large sum of money.
In 1930, two windows, both designed by Tiffany were installed. “The Sower” and “I Am the Resurrection and the Life”. “The Sower” or the Hall Memorial Window was given in memory of Lucien & Jennnie Lyon Hall by their daughter. “I Am the Resurrection and the Life” or the Cogswell Memorial Window, was given in memory of James Cogswell by his wife. The signature of Louis Comfort Tiffany can be seen in the lower corner of the window.
“Paul’s Conversion on the Damascus Road” by Nobis Studios was donated in 1967 by the Mulhall family. It was the Church’s fourth stained-glass window on the Ontario Street side.
In 1976, three more windows were installed. The Stouffer Memorial Window, containing scenes from around Cleveland that Vernon Stouffer is associated with such as Severance Hall and the Stouffer Hotel located in Public Square. The “Bicentennial Window” was given in honor of the bicentennial signing of the Declaration of Independence and features John Witherspoon signing the document. The last window installed was the “Ecumenical Window”. All three windows installed in 1976 were by Nobis Studios.
Over the years, two different fires gutted the church, but thankfully all of the windows survived and with restoration, they are all as beautiful as when they were first installed.
Inside the church, the stunning architecture includes dark mahogany and golden oak panels. This 600 seat sanctuary is also home to impressive beams and a large balcony. The light used to filter in from high above in the clerestory area is located on both sides. Gold symbols and inscriptions painted on the chancel walls are stunning.
The Old Stone Church is open for services or for visitors to come and view the windows and architecture. While inside, be sure to get a good look at the organ. The Old Stone Church as a long-running tradition of beautiful choral music backed up by the organ first built by William A. Johnson. With its ornate casework, it is quite a sight to behold. You can literally see a piece of history right in front of you. It’s like a scene from Clash of Clans come to life. The Old Stone Church is also available for weddings and can be reserved by contacting the church.