Mt. Savage was no more than a little hamlet at the turn of the century; but, by 1825 had become a village of some note. In 1839 the Iron Works were erected by an Englishman, Mr. Howell, and several other English capitalists. This new manufacturing company had the distinction of rolling the first iron rail in America. Many managers and staff for this new enterprise hailed from Europe.These Europeans held their first Episcopal church services at the Iron Works. Several historical records refer to the use of a Machine Shop for services, others refer to a Pattern House. John H. Kehler was the first minister to serve these people, quite like a missionary. Records place him as assistant to Rev. Hillhouse Buell at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Cumberland. Mr. Kehler was a former Lutheran minister who had requested commission as a candidate for orders in the Episcopal Church. We know that Rev. Kehler missed a regularly scheduled service in Mt. Savage on August 22, 1841, because of his own ordination by Bishop Whittingham in Cumberland. Two days later, the Bishop visited the congregation in Mt. Savage and held services in the Pattern House.It was in May of 1841 that the Episcopalian families of Mt. Savage, having worshiped and gathered many times, felt it important to meet and elect a vestry. This vestry sent application to the convention of 1841 to be recognized and be received into union with the convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Maryland.On June 27, 1841, a Sunday School was organized after morning services. On July 11, 1841, Rev. Kehler addressed the Sunday School commencement. There were 45 scholars and 10 teachers in attendance. The average attendance, according to records, was 100 scholars and 12-15 teachers.
In 1845, the Episcopal congregation in Mt. Savage was granted land from the Maryland and New York Iron and Coal Company to erect a church. In a parochial report in 1845, Rev. Kehler, signing himself missionary, announced that Christ Church (the name the church used at that time) had begun work on erecting an Episcopal Church, dimensions 45×26, cost = $1,000. The new church was consecrated by Bishop Whittingham on October 12, 1845. At this point, the name of Christ Church Parish was dropped and the name St George’s Church was selected.
This building stood until 1903, when the Standing committee of the Diocese gave its consent for the destruction of the church built in 1845, in order that a new church might be erected on the same site. The last service in the old church was held by Rev. Dr. Nott on the morning of Sunday, April 26, 1903, and on Tuesday following, demolition of the old structure, so dear to many hearts, was begun. The tower containing the bell, which since 1850 had called the people to worship, was separated from the building and attached to the front of the Sunday School building.
The cornerstone for the new church was laid on June 6, 1903, by Bishop Paret, and the church was consecrated on October 13, 1908. Services in the new church were to have begun on Easter Sunday, 1904, but due to the sudden death on March 8th of Rev. Theophilus Smoot, the first service was postponed until a new Rector was chosen. This large Gothic Church of stone and brick is the one we know and love today.
The old Sunday School was torn down and a new Parish House was built by the men of the parish during the rectorship of Rev. J. W. Torkington, D.D., with work being completed by May 15, 1924.
A stone bell tower was added to the church in 1952. This project was under the direction of the Rev. G. Stanley Schwind, and once again, much volunteer labor from the parish was used. Near the top of the tower is a row of native stone. There is a stone from each state of the union. Also made of stone is the Chapel of the Resurrection. On may 27, 1978, the Bell Tower and the Parish House were rededicated. The tower was dedicated to Father Schwind, and the parish House was dedicated to Rev. Dr. Torkington.
St. George’s Church proudly celebrated the 150th anniversary of an Episcopal presence in Mt. Savage in 1990.
To find out more about our church history click the link below for some extended history and images.