St. Matthew's Episcopal Church
in Wheeling WV

St. Elizabeth's Chapel (1908)At the turn of the century, when The Reverend David Howard was called to the rectorship, the membership of St. Matthew's was about 800. Before leaving Wheeling in 1907, Rev. Mr. Howard broke ground for the construction of St. Elizabeth's Chapel at Steenrod Place, a facility for deaf mutes in the Ohio Valley. The chapel, built in 1907-1908, was a memorial to Elizabeth McLure Steenrod who gave the land and funds for building. St. Elizabeth's was consecrated in 1910 and is thought to be the third such facility in the nation. Fire struck the chapel on a cold winter night in February 1912. It was so cold that the water mains were useless and the chapel burned to the ground. The deaf mutes were immediately incorporated into the life of St. Matthew's and, some years later, the 15th Street chapel at St. Matthew's was named St. Elizabeth Chapel. Some of the memorials that were in storage at the time of the fire are still displayed there.

The Reverend L. W. S. Stryker arrived at St. Matthew's in 1908. Even before the fire, the Vestry was presented with a new challenge. In April 1911, Mrs. H. C. Franzheim presented St. Matthew's with six lots at Echo Point for the purpose of building an "out the pike" church building to meet the parochial needs of the congregation. The first objective was to house the growing Sunday school that had been started by Mrs. Julian Hearne at nearby Leatherwood. The parish record apprised the congregation "Right in the heart of the suburbs, and but a step from the Echo Point Station, there is a valuable plot of land that has been deeded to the Trustees of St. Matthew's" We read again that by July 1911, "It is practically decided that the building will be cruciform, one 'arm' being used as a meeting room, the other 'arm' as a chapel and the main portion of the building giving us a good-sized room for Sunday school and general purposes."

St. John's ChapelAppropriately, the architect of the new church house was Wheeling's distinguished Edward Bates Franzheim, son of the donor of the land. By October 1911, construction was under way and, by December, a large granite boulder ordered from Massachusetts was delivered to the site. The name "Churchfield" was cut into its face. The new church house was formally opened on August 1, 1912, by Bishop George W. Peterkin with the rector, L. W. S. Stryker, assisting. It was reported that the fully vested St. Matthew's boys choir "gave a touch of solemnity to this auspicious opening." The bishop emphasized the training of children in the Sunday school and predicted that this facility would become an important center for parish activities.

The chapel of the new church house was named St. John's Chapel, and the communion vessels provided for celebration of the sacrament were those that had originally belonged to the old St. John's in South Wheeling. The first Sunday school classes started in September. Soon a section of the Junior Auxiliary met there on Saturdays, youth group activities occurred weekly, and Holy Communion was celebrated on Saint's Days. Later in the summer, the Men's Guild installed two tennis courts on the property and completed the landscaping. Showers and change rooms were constructed in the basement. All was done as an extension of St. Matthew's activities with no thought of establishing a separate church.

One of the many farsighted acts of Rev. Mr. Stryker was a letter to the Vestry in October 1911, suggesting the establishment of an endowment for St. Matthew's church in preparation for the centennial in 1919. Fortunately, the Vestry thought well of the idea. In late September 1913, Rev. Mr. Stryker informed the Vestry that he was traveling to La Grange, Ill., regarding a call to serve there. In an effort to convince Rev. Mr. Stryker to stay, the St. Matthew's Vestry offered to provide him with an assistant and sought release of St. Matthew's responsibilities for St. Paul's. They would also consider changing the rectory to a parish house, but it was too late. On November 11, 1913, the Vestry accepted the rector's resignation. The Reverend G. Freeland Peter accepted the rectorship in October 1914. Seven months later, he resigned to accept a call to St. James Church in Richmond, Virginia.

Weekly Services

Sunday:
8:00 A.M. Holy Eucharist: Rite I
10:30 A.M. Holy Eucharist: Rite II

Wednesday:
12:05 P.M.  H.E. and Healing Service

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St. Matthew's Episcopal Church
1410 Chapline Street
Wheeling, WV 26003
(304) 233-0133

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