St. Matthew's Episcopal Church
in Wheeling WV

As St. Matthew's continued to grow, adequate space was a continual problem. In 1860, a new organ was installed by William Nutting of Vermont. In 1862, the basement was remodeled to provide more Sunday school rooms. In 1863, plans were drawn to remodel the gallery to accommodate the enlarged choir. The constant demand for remodeling suggested to many the need to reconsider the tabled proposal of 1860, to construct a new building. At the September 9, 1863 meeting of the Vestry, it was unanimously agreed "that it is expedient for St. Matthew's congregation to put up a new building as soon as practicable and that a committee be and is hereby appointed to look after a suitable lot for that purpose."

At the next meeting of the Vestry, the committee reported in favor of the lots at the corner of 4th and Quincy Streets. (The location is known now as 15th and Chapline Streets.) After discussion, a committee was appointed to find 10 or more persons to donate $500 each for the purchase of the lots from Isaac Cotts. By February 1864, the committee reported they could fund the purchase. In March, the sale was complete with the support of J. C. Achison, Jas. R. Bell, S. Brady, S. Deleplain, J. R. Greer, E. A. Hildreth, A. Allen Howell, John List, Oliver Payer, and G. N. Smithand.

Immediately following, a committee was appointed to seek subscriptions for construction of the new building. In March, Charles Bartburger of Pittsburgh, Pa., was asked to develop plans for the new building. In April, he was ready to show a front elevation of the proposed new church with a diagram of the main floor showing the arrangement and number of pews by classes. Such architectural drawings were very helpful in soliciting subscriptions. Subsequently, the Vestry appointed Gordon W. Lloyd, a prominent church architect from Detroit, Mi. to complete the design for the new church. Potential subscribers were told that construction would begin when $15,000 was in hand.

During 1865 and 1866, the Vestry embarked on several transactions in preparation for the construction of the new church. They sold the rectory and, in the spring of 1866, they met with the trustees of the Baptist Church of Wheeling to discuss purchasing of their old church building. By April, an agreement was reached to sell the building for $8,000. The Baptists would take occupancy in May, but make the building available to St. Matthew's congregation on Sunday afternoons until their new building was ready. This resolution was proposed by the rector at the April meeting, "That our sorrow in leaving a Sanctuary hallowed by so many blessed memories is assuaged by the assurance that its walls will still echo to the utterances of evangelic truth and that we pray that reconsecration by a baptism of fire from our common Redeemer it may yet be the spiritual birthplace of many of such as shall be saved."

Sunday, November 1, 1866, was set for the laying of the cornerstone for the new church. The Intelligencer carried a full front-page story on Monday reporting in detail the remarks of the Reverend Charles Gillette of Ohio. In closing, he said:

"Let then, the temple which you build, be in its costliness and apportionment, such as shall be fitting for the presence of Him, to whom you build. Enter upon and prosecute your work in humble, earnest faith and prayer, relying upon the Almighty for success, always remembering that 'Except the Lord build the house their labor is but vain that build it. If now you enter upon this work with full purpose of heart to honor God in all your doings, then may not the word of God, by His prophets to Israel, be also to you: consider from this day and forward, from the day, that the foundation of the Lord's house was laid, from this, I will bless you."

By January 1867, the building committee reported to the Vestry that unless an additional $25,000 was forthcoming, they would not be in a position to proceed with construction. At that meeting the Vestry was increased from nine to 12 members.

Seeing that the building project was taking longer than anticipated, the Vestry began in February to explore the possibility of renting the Union Hall from the Beethoven Society.

In April, Rev. Thomas G. Addison resigned as rector.

The Reverend C. George Currie accepted the call to become rector of St. Matthew's and arrived in Wheeling in March 1868. He preached before large crowds at the Union Hall while construction continued under the direction of supervising architect J. A. Fairfax. The work of the parish became so demanding that again St. Matthew's appointed an assistant rector. The Reverend George Tounge, who served until August 1871. Even though the new church building was nearing completion, Rev. Dr. Currie resigned as rector on December 27, 1870.

The Reverend James A. Latane, a native of Staunton, Va., was called as rector in the spring of 1871 and took up his duties in Wheeling on May 24. He was greatly loved and respected in Wheeling, and his tenure is memorialized by the completion of the new building at a total cost of $70,862. Unfortunately, a $30,000 debt postponed the consecration for another decade. But, the congregation took pride and satisfaction in their new sanctuary of Gothic design.

Weekly Services

5:00 pm – St. John’s Chapel, Heiskell Ave

8:00am – St. Matthew’s, 1410 Chapline Street
10:30 am – St. Matthew’s, 1410 Chapline Street

12:05 pm – St. Elizabeth’s Chapel, 1410 Chapline Street

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


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