St. Luke’s Church
107 East Broadway, Granville, Ohio
—A BRIEF HISTORY—
In 1823, work was being completed on a parsonage for the Congregational Church. Because impending cold weather would cause the mortar to fail, the pastor gave permission for work to continue on the Sabbath. The congregation…“was horrified, protests were made, the ensuing troubles drove the pastor out of the church, and split the membership into four factions.” One of the factions (that included the pastor) was led into the Episcopal Church and in 1827, became known as St. Luke’s Church in Granville, Licking County.
Constructed in 1837, and consecrated on July 15, 1838, the building is considered by many authorities as one of the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture in the United States. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, the first Granville structure to be so honored. The original cost, with furnishings, was $7,200.
St. Luke’s follows the basic temple form – a rectangle measuring 43 by 65 feet. The structure is on a base of local sandstone. The original wood siding, with slightly rounded edges, suggests the stone blocks of a temple. The entrance features 3’ wide, 18’ tall Doric columns and tall doors which exhibit a Greek shouldered lintel.
Benjamin Morgan and Minard Lafever were the architects who designed St. Luke’s. Morgan utilized, as did many architects and builders at the time, Asher Benjamin’s builder’s handbooks, The Practice of Architecture and The Practical House Carpenter. Morgan must have worked from Lafever’s handbooks as well. The proportions and molding profiles are those of Lafever, shown in his book, The Modern Builder’s Guide (1833).
Morgan was a Welshman who had studied and trained in England. He had worked on the remodeling of Buckingham Palace in the 1800’s. Morgan was killed by falling timber in 1851 while working on the Ohio State House. His funeral was read in St. Luke’s, and he was buried in Granville’s Maple Grove Cemetery. The parish contacted Minard Lafever, a noted architect of New York, for the design of the interior. Lafever was well-known at the time, having designed in New York and New Orleans, and authored several handbooks on architecture. The interior measurements of the church, as designed by Morgan, were sent to New York; Lafever sent his specifications back to Granville.
The belfry is typical Greek Revival, in keeping with the bell tower trend set by Sir Christopher Wren in England. The belfry design is from Asher Benjamin’s The Practice of Architecture, as are the doors on the front portico. The belfry was fitted with a 1,000 pound bell cast by John Gallagher of Pittsburgh at a cost of $101. The weather vane is a hallmark of Asher Benjamin’s designs.
Lafever’s ceiling centerpiece of molded plaster called the “Lafever Rose” featuring acanthus leaves and other motifs, is one of his finest designs. The ceiling was originally crafted by Orren Bryant, a farmer in nearby Alexandria, Ohio, who was a very capable plasterer. In 1838, he wrote his father, “I have taken a job lathing and plastering an Episcopalian meeting house in Granville… I have three hundred and twenty-five dollars for doing the job, all materials being furnished by me for the work and board myself – board being two dollars per week.”
St. Luke’s interior best illustrates the free use of Greek forms; the profiles of the altar, lectern, and pulpit are exaggerations of the Doric Order. These profiles are also evident in the door and window trim.
A bronze chandelier, a Sinumbra Font design, fitted with oil lamps (which originally burned whale oil) and believed to be one of two still in existence, was suspended from the rose of the ceiling centerpiece. Made in Philadelphia and costing $100, it was shipped from New York to Granville by canal. The wall lights were crafted in 1937.
The hand-hewn wooden box pews originally seated three hundred. The pew doors were numbered – the even numbers “rented” to members to cover yearly operating expenses; odd numbered ones were reserved for guests.
From 2009-2013, due to age-related deterioration and a weather-related catastrophe, the building experienced extensive restoration. St. Luke’s is a vibrant, diverse, and welcoming parish family whose openness reflects that of its founders. Its people are committed to outreach initiatives for the community and the world, a joy-filled and caring community life and a variety of programs in education, music and lay ministry for both adults and children – all supporting the worship of a loving God who calls this parish to bring justice and wholeness as Jesus did.