NOTE: In celebration of those local faith communities for which this is a highly significant weekend, 1812Blockhouse is re-showcasing three Mansfield church buildings today which have been the subject of posts in our Landmarks of Mansfield series.
The stately building on the southwest corner of Third and Bowman Streets near downtown represents a 171 year history of the Episcopal Church in Mansfield.
Established in 1846, the same year that brought railroads to town, Grace Episcopal Church’s first parishioners included members of the Bartley and Sherman families. Two years later, its first church building was constructed on Third Street just east of Mulberry.
As the century neared its end, the parish began plans to construct a new facility. The idea was advanced to offer its property for $10,000 to trustees of the planned Carnegie Library and to build in a new location, with a contingency to build on its current site.
Shortly before this transaction took place, the old Grace Church was the venue for what might have been the most high profile funeral in Mansfield history – that of Senator and Secretary of State John Sherman. On October 25, 1900, mourners who gathered in the small, brick structure included President William McKinley.
The new church was designed by prolific local architect Vernon Redding. Plans called for a building designed in traditional Gothic style, and with seating for 432 with an additional 60 to 70 in an adjacent chapel.
Ground was broken for the church on June 30, 1905, and a cornerstone was laid in early September of that year. By February 1906, the congregation began to meet in the basement room of the building, and then on November 17, 1907, Grace Episcopal Church was dedicated with a service presided over by The Right Reverned W.A. Leonard, Bishop of Ohio. In his sermon, Bishop Leonard used a test from the second chapter of Haggai:
“I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.”
Planned to cost $25,000, the church, when finished, cost nearer to $45,000. It was constructed of Sandusky limetone, trimmed with Bedford stone. Newspaper accounts noted that that interior was different than other Mansfield churches, particularly in the massive wood beams in the ceiling and the “shape of the furniture.” The brass communiton rail was a gift of Charles Kelley King, and the west window above the altar, representing the Lord’s Supper, was made in Munich, Germany.
Nave windows temporariy featured amber glass; it was not until January 1915 that additional stained glass windows were added.
In 1956, a large classroom addition was made to Grace Church; several years ago, a major addition was made which provides an accessible entrance, restrooms, and a major refurbishment of the educational wing.