History of the Churches of Catasauqua
The first church with the present day borough of Catasauqua was built near the corner of Howertown Rd and Church St in 1839 by the Welsh employees of the Crane Iron Works. It was replaced in 1856 by the Presbyterian Church on Pine and Second. Samuel Thomas tells of its history in his address at the Borough’s Semi-Centennial Jubilee in 1904.
A Methodist congregation existed since 1843. Their first church on Front St became the Odd Fellows Hall. The church was reestablished at the corner of 5th and Walnut.
Also in the 1840s, an Evangelical Association of Catasauqua was formed, and in 1848, built their first meeting house, called the Immanuel Evangelical church on Howertown Rd below Mulberry St. The brick church was abandoned and a new church built in 1868 at the corner of Second and Walnut.
Prior to 1852, the Scotch Irish Presbyterians held services at peoples’ homes, in “the woods” or at the Irish Settlement to the east. In ~1850, this group was a partner in building the “Union Church” on the west side of Howertown at Church, then shortly thereafter, the Scotch Irish built their own church in 1852 on Bridge St SE at the corner of Bridge and Crane St (then named Church Alley). This building was abandoned in the 1860s (no pic). Shortly aftwerwards, another Scots Irish Presbyterian Church was built on the south side of Bridge just west of Howertown Rd. This church merged with the one on 2nd and Pine in the 1900s.
In 1851, the Lutheran community partnered with their German Reformed brethren (who farmed the area of Biery’s Port prior to the Crane Iron) to build a Union Church on Church St at Howertown; the cornerstone is dated 1852. The two groups split in 1868 and the German group went on to build their own church at Third and Walnut Sts. Strife continued in the Lutheran Church between the English and German speaking members, resulting in a spinoff in 1873 of the Holy Trinity English Evangelical Lutheran Church, built at Third and Bridge, later moving to Fourth & Pine. The 1852 building on Howertown Rd was replaced in 1887-8 and was the home of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. In 1888, St. Paul’s established two satellite churches: one in East Catasauqua on Race St and one in Fullerton, now St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on Grape Street. The one on Race St is now home to a Baptist congregation. St Paul’s on Howertown Rd closed in 2019, becoming the home of an Islamic organization.
Prior to 1852, the German Reformed traveled to Howertown or Schoenersville or, if weather permitted, met in the nearby woods, and sometimes after 1848, met at the Presbyterian Church, before joining with other Lutherans to build the Union Church, which they shared until 1868. In 1869, they built the First Reformed Church of Catasauqua at Third and Walnut St. The church suffered from dissension, lack of a pastor and debt for many years. It was reorganized as the Salem Reformed Church of Catasauqua in 1880, which still operates.
1856 & 1857 saw the construction of the first two Roman Catholic Churches: St Lawrence and St Mary’s. St Lawrence’s ministered to the English speaking Catholics and St Mary’s, to the foreign speaking Catholics. St Andrew’s was built after 1900, dedicated to the Slovack-speaking community (not shown).
In 1871 the East Catasauqua Sunday School was founded, with a chapel added in 1889. In 1905, at the time the mortgage was paid off, the school had 250 students.
In 1868, at 701 Second (NE corner of Walnut and Second), Immanuel Evangelical Church was built. The congregation building committee: Owen Swartz, Charles G. Schneller, William Michel, Aron Glick, and David Tombler. Before constructing this church, Evangelicals worshipped for 20 years in a small brick meeting house on a triangular lot on Howertown Rd below Mulberry, with a small adjoining cemetery. Funds to build the earlier church were donated by members of the community outside the congregation; but by 1868, the congregation had grown and was able to acquire the land and build the structure which stands here today. By 1891, the church had grown to a congregation of 800, when factional elements caused a split in the congregation, and many members joined St John’s United Evangelical Church at Walnut and Limestone (see below). The church never recovered completely, though in 1904 they built a new parsonage (next door) and added a Sunday School. In 1962, the building was purchased by the Bethany Bible Fellowship who renovated the building to include a gym and areas for classrooms and social gatherings.
In 1894 St. John’s United Evangelical Church was built on the NW corner of Walnut and Limestone. The congregation building committee was James Fahler, David Graffin, A. E. Brown, C. W. Weibel, and P. J. Heilman. This congregation split from the Immanuel Evangelical Church at Walnut and Second. In 1959, the church building was also purchased by the Bethany Bible Fellowship. Both chuirches are now private residences.
The latest addition to Catasauqua’s religous community is the Revolution Church, 5 Race St., which held its grand opening Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014. The church is led by Bishop Jim McIver. and was previously located in center city Allentown. The church is located in what was for many years the Mauser and Cressman Flour Mill, on the site of the original saw and grain mill built c 1752. Revolution Church offers a more modern form of worship. While non-denominational, many church members are Pentecostal, McIver said.
These pages on Catasauqua history are provided and maintained by the Historic Catasauqua Preservation Association