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Hagerstown 'alive with people' during tour of historic churches

December 26, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — An unanticipated crowd of hundreds meandered through downtown Hagerstown Monday evening to behold the architecture and majesty of 10 of the community’s historic churches.

“We have had a tremendous response,” said Bruce Massey, an organizer of the event. “It’s just been huge.”

Ten churches opened their doors between 5 and 8 p.m. for the first-ever Christmas Tour of Historic Churches.

Massey, a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church on South Prospect Street, said previously that the idea for a church tour was inspired by a similar event in Frederick, Md.

But as he toured the churches Monday, Massey said he never expected quite so many people for Hagerstown’s first tour.

“Hagerstown was alive with people tonight,” he said.

One church had already counted more than 330 people who had passed through its doors, he said.

At every church Massey visited, docents remarked at the turnout, he said.

“I am very surprised,” said Barbara Hendershot, who was at Zion Reformed United Church of Christ on North Potomac Street, about halfway through the event. “I bet more than 200 people have come already.”

People started coming into Trinity Lutheran Church on the corner of North Potomac Street and Randolph Avenue right at 5 p.m., according to Jane Guyton, who was at the church.

The free tour was self-guided and featured nine downtown churches, as well as one, Christ Lutheran Evangelical Church on North Cleveland Avenue, a little outside the city center.

Tourists could walk or drive to the churches, or they could ride a trolley that traveled between the buildings, with the exception of Christ Lutheran Evangelical Church, according to information on the tour. Tourists were also welcomed to the Miller House on West Washington Street for refreshments.

For those lucky to get their hands on one, a brochure provided details on each church. Within minutes of the start of the event, many docents at the churches said they had handed out all their brochures.

As he rode the trolley Monday evening, Massey said everyone seemed to have had an enjoyable time, and many were gathering at St. John’s Episcopal Church for an organ selection and Christmas carols between 8:15 and 8:45 p.m., he said.

“It’s been just wonderful,” a woman called out.

“And I just want to add that every church I visited was beautiful,” Massey said. “I feel like they went the extra mile to make the churches look wonderful for the tour.”

As people meandered through the houses of worship, they pointed at elaborate stained-glass windows, paused to listen to carols being played from historic pipe organs — including a few Moller organs — or photographed an elaborate altar piece.

Churches on the tour included:

  • St. John’s Episcopal Church at 101 S. Prospect St.
  • St. Mary Catholic Church at 224 W. Washington St.
  • The Presbyterian Church of Hagerstown at 20 S. Prospect St.
  • Hagerstown Church of the Brethren at 15 S. Mulberry St.
  • Christ Lutheran Evangelical Church at 216 N. Cleveland Ave.
  • Otterbein United Methodist Church at 108 E. Franklin St.
  • Trinity Lutheran Church at 15 Randolph Ave.
  • Zion Reformed United Church of Christ at 201 N. Potomac St.
  • John Wesley United Methodist Church at 129 N. Potomac St.
  • St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church at 141 S. Potomac St.

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