St. Peter's Episcopal Church records
Held at: St. Peter's Episcopal Church [Contact Us]313 Pine Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19106
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the St. Peter's Episcopal Church. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
"The first service at St. Peter's [Episcopal] Church [in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] was held on September 4, 1761, and the church has been in continuous use ever since. St. Peter's was founded in 1758 by members of Christ Church living in newly-settled Society Hill. Rising on land donated by William Penn's sons, Thomas and Richard, it was designed and built by Scottish architect/builder Robert Smith, who also designed Carpenter's Hall and the tower of Christ Church. (The Penn family coat of arms can be seen above the wine-glass pulpit and sounding board.) St. Peter's and Christ Church were united until 1832. William White, Rector of both churches from 1779 until his death in 1836, was chaplain to the U.S. Congress during the Revolution, founder of the Episcopal Church in 1784, its first presiding bishop and first bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania.
"Most of the church remains as it was in the eighteenth century. Smith designed it in the mid-Georgian auditory style, with the classical lines and clear glass windows of the Age of Reason. The pulpit and lectern are set at the opposite end of the aisle from the altar, projecting into the congregation, in order to focus attention on the Word of God, a reflection of the religious thought of the day. The original high-backed box pews, including Mayor Samuel Powel's box, which George and Martha Washington often frequented, were designed to retain heat in winter. With the advent of central heating, many churches removed their box pews, but since St. Peter's services are conducted at both ends of the church, the original arrangement has been kept. The tower and steeple, designed by renowned Philadelphia architect William Strickland, was added in 1842 to house a chime of eight bells donated by Benjamin Chew Wilcocks and cast at the Whitechapel Foundry in London, where the Liberty Bell came from. Slaves and servants of members sat on hard benches at the west end of the gallery. One of these slaves, Absalom Jones, became a highly-respected leader of the original African-American community of Philadelphia [who], founded the first African-American Episcopal Church, the African [Episcopal] Church of St. Thomas, in 1794, and was the first black Episcopal priest.
"The church's ministry of music from the outset is evident from the magnificent Rococo organ case (1764), the fine Skinner organ (1931) and the Choir of Men and Boys (1868), one of the nation's oldest, all of which continue to enhance worship to this day - as does a Girl's Choir...
"Many notable Philadelphians are buried in the tranquil churchyard: Col. John Nixon, who gave the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 8, 1776 Revolutionary War hero Commodore John Hazelwood (1726-1800) Painter Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827), who painted the first portrait of George Washington Vice President George Mifflin Dallas (1792-1864), for whom Dallas, Texas, was named Commodore Stephen Decatur (1779-1820), hero of the Battle of Tripoli The seven Indian chiefs who died of smallpox on a visit to Philadelphia in 1793
"St. Peter's has ministered to its changing community through nearly 250 years, through the American Revolution, the arrival of many groups of immigrants, urban decline and rebirth, and is committed to continuing into the future its original mission of service and sanctuary for all in need."
Quoted text from: St. Peter's Church. "A Brief History of St. Peter's Church." 2014. Accessed December 11, 2014. http://www.stpetersphila.org/about-st-peters/history/.
The St. Peter's Episcopal Church records, 1761-2013 (bulk 1832-2013), consist of minutes of the vestry, parish registers and records of service, accounting and financial records, deeds, blueprints, photographs, sound recordings and other records of St. Peter's Church. In addition, there are materials from parish organizations and affiliated organizations. The records in the collection with information dating prior to 1832, when St. Peter's was still part of Christ Church, are mostly copies of the originals, which are still held at Christ Church. The collection is arranged by subject matter and organized into thirteen series:
I. Vestry and Corporation records II. Clergy and worship records III. Accounting and financial records IV. Parish administration files V. Property records VI. Parish organizations VII. Parish affiliations VIII. Historic St. Peter's Church Preservation Corporation IX. Historical files X. St. Peter's School XI. Publications XII. Photographs XIII. Episcopal Diocese
There are some unsorted boxes in the collection. A detailed finding aid is available on site. Additionally, some boxes contain folder listings or inventories. There are card indexes to portions of the collection, including vital records (baptisms, confirmations, marriages, deaths), the graveyard, and historical records. Although not included as part of this collection, books and objects such as furniture, bells, the church's pipe organ, and other artifacts are owned by St. Peter's and available on site.
The collection is arranged by subject matter and organized into thirteen series.
Series I. Vestry and Corporation records
I.1 Minutes (1750-1940) I.2 Charter and by-laws (1761-1987) 1.3 Mission and long-range strategic planning materials (1986-2002) 1.4 Vestry correspondence (1950s-1994) 1.5 Retreat materials (1997)
Series II. Clergy and worship records
II.1 Registers, baptisms, marriages, confirmations, burials II.2 List of communicants/transfers II.3 Parish service registers II.4 Orders of service II.5 Individual rectors' papers II.6 Choir II.7 Guest logs
Series III. Accounting and financial records
III.1 Church Wardens III.2 Pew registers (1823-1966) III.3 General ledgers III.4 Financial papers III.5 Endowments III.6 Bequests, wills, and legacies III.7 Charity funds III.8 Pledge registers
Series IV. Parish administration files
IV.1 Diocesan reports IV.2 Census 1893 IV.3 Annual reports - Parish IV.4 Directories IV.5 Personnel IV.6 In reach IV.7 Outreach IV.8 Stewardship IV.9 Budgets, Investment Committee IV.10 Legal IV.11 Rector's Wardens' files IV.12 Special committees and task forces IV.13 Special events
Series V. Property records
V.1 Titles, deeds V.2 Church V.3 Bell tower V.4 Steeple V.5 Cross V.6 Churchyard/graveyard, walls and gates V.7 Third and Lombard streets V.8 Lombard Street properties V.9 St. Peter's House V.10 Collections V.11 Grounds, peripheral sidewalks V.12 Other properties V.13 Property Committee V.14 Blueprints, drawings, and plans
Series VI. Parish organizations
VI.1 Dorcas Society VI.2 St. Peter's Historical Society VI.3 St. Agnes' Guild VI.4 St. Peter's Branch of the Womenâ€™s Auxiliary VI.5 Christian Education (Sunday School) VI.6 Female Sunday School VI.7 Girls' Friendly Society VI.8 Education Society VI.9 Altar Guild VI.10 Ladies' Missionary Aid VI.11 Volunteer Guides
Series VII. Parish affiliations
VII.1 Christ Church VII.2 St. Paul's Church/Episcopal Community Services (ECS) VII.3 Memorial Church of the Holy Comforter VII.4 Chapel of the Transfiguration Episcopal Academy VII.5 Other Christ Church Hospital VII.6 Bishop White Prayer Book Society VII.7 Female Episcopal Benevolent Society VII.8 St. Peter's Branch of the Women's Auxiliary VII.9 Women of St. Peter's VII.10 Episcopal Women (ECW) VII.11 Church Historical Society VII.12 Brotherhood of St. Andrew VII.13 Old Philadelphia Congregations
Series VIII. Historic St. Peter's Church Preservation Corporation
VIII.1 Organizational and legal VIII.2 Governance VIII.3 Financial VIII.4 Publications VIII.5 Projects VIII.6 Correspondence, VIII.7 Individuals' files
Series IX. Historical files
IX.1 Church history IX.2 People IX.3 Anniversaries/celebrations
Series X. St. Peter's School
X.1 Day School X.2 St. Peter's School 1903-1960 X.3 St. Peter's School for Boys 1960-1964 X.4 St. Peter's School 1964-1969 X.5 St. Peter's School 1969
Series XI. Publications
XI.1 Bulletins XI.2 Parish yearbooks XI.3 Histories, general conventions, proceedings: Episcopal Church XI.4 The Spire XI.5 Pamphlets
Series XII. Photographs
XII.1 Church property XII.2 Parish functions XII.3 Parish people XII.4 St. Peter's choir
Series XIII. Episcopal Diocese
Selected materials from this collection were digitized from 2018-2021 as part of the Philadelphia Congregations Early Records project. The Philadelphia Congregations Early Records project was made possible by a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant from CLIR, the Council on Library and Information Resources, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Digtized materials are viewable on the PhiladelphiaCongregations.org website. Some items have been transcribed, and users are invited to contribute to the transcription effort. In addition, all of the digitized records are available in the ATLA (American Theological Library Association) Digital Library, and archival copies of the scanned images are preserved on the OPenn website at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries.
Links to Digital Resources for this Collection:
- Browse all digitized items from St. Peter's Episcopal Church on the Philadelphia Congregations website.
- Browse all digitized items from St. Peter's Episcopal Church on the ATLA Digital Library.
- Browse all archival images from St. Peter's Episcopal Church on the OPenn website.
Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2014-2016 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.
In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact St. Peter's Episcopal Church directly for more information.
- Christ Church (Philadelphia, Pa.) Archives of Christ Church, Philadelphia
- Christ Church (Philadelphia, Pa.)
- St. Peter's Church (Philadelphia, Pa.)
- United Churches of Christ-Church and St. Peter's (Philadelphia, Pa.)
- United Churches of Christ-Church, St. Peter's, and St. James's (Philadelphia, Pa.)
- St. Peter's Episcopal Church
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Roy Bernat, Lillian Cohen, Terry Conn, Cynthia J. Eiseman, Nancy Fago, Marcia Rogers, Joan Snowden, and other contributors under the supervision of consulting archivist Carol Wojtowicz Smith. Finding aid encoded in EAD by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
- This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
- Access Restrictions
Contact St. Peter's Episcopal Church for information about accessing this collection.
This series is further divided into five sub-series: I.1 Minutes (1750-1940), I.2 Charter and by-laws (1761-1987), I.3 Mission and long-range strategic planning materials (1986-2002), I.4 Vestry correspondence (1950s-1994), and I.5 Retreat materials (1997). This series encompasses the years 1761 to the present. Many of the records pre-dating 1832 are not originals, but have been copied from the originals which are held at Christ Church (St. Peter's was part of Christ Church until 1832). Between copies and original documents, available on-site are nearly complete Vestry minutes, charter and bylaws with subsequent amendments, and the 1761 deed from Thomas and Richard Penn.
This series includes records of baptisms, confirmations, marriages and burials including correspondence and research; recorded papers of the rectors, correspondence and sermons; choir history and recordings; and guest registers. This series is further divided into seven sub-series: II.1 Registers, baptisms, marriages, confirmations, burials; II.2 List of communicants/transfers; II.3 Parish service registers; II.4 Orders of service; II.5 Individual rectors' papers; II.6 Choir, and II.7 Guest logs.
Sub-series II.1 Registers, baptisms, marriages, confirmations, burials includes correspondence and research materials related to these records, as well as a set of ten bound volumes (the Parish Registers of St. Peter's Church). These ten volumes were uniformly bound probably sometime after 1947. For purposes of clarity, the Registers have been arbitrarily numbered, Volumes I through X. The first three volumes: I, II and III, are transcripts of Registers that were kept at Christ Church and cover the period when Christ Church and St. Peter's Church were known as "The United Churches of Christ Church and St. Peter's" (1761-1832). These volumes were created for the use of St. Peter's Church at the time of the separation of the two churches from one congregation into two separate congregations in 1832. The information recorded in these first three volumes does not specify at which institution the ceremony noted took place until 1810, noted in the Christ Church baptism register. Generally speaking, the Registers are in chronological order. However, in some Registers covering multiple functions, the recorders ran out of enough posting space in a given function. This resulted in skipping around in the volume to find additional posting space. The most complicated volume is IV, where baptisms can be found in five different locations. There is also some overlap between volumes. Volumes VI, VII and VIII have printed page numbers. The other volumes lack printed page numbers, and numbers were written in by hand, lightly in pencil. Three supplemental registers, Volumes I a, IV a, and VIII a, cover some gaps in the uniformly bound set. Baptisms, marriages and burials are recorded in Volumes I through IX. Volume X really belongs with the pew rent information (Series III, Sub-series .2).
Sub-series II.3 Parish service registers consists of ten volumes numbered I through X and cover 1890 to 1981. There is some overlap between volumes.
Sub-series II.4 Orders of service consists of bound volumes of weekly orders of service from October 1946 to January 1978 and loose copies of weekly orders of service from 1978 to the present (incomplete).
Sub-series II.5 Individual rectors' papers consists of correspondence, sermons, and other papers from a number of rectors at St. Peter's, including Edward Jeffreys, F. Lee Richards, Joseph Koci, and Francis Bayard Rhein. The papers from the 19th century clergy are incomplete, but most of the rectors from 1906 onward are represented.
Sub-series II.6 Choir consists of materials and recordings of the choirs of St. Peter's. Paper records for the choirs of St. Peter's Church are difficult to find. The first choirs of St. Peter's Church consisted exclusively of boys. Over the years the choir has expanded to include men, women and children. Bound volumes of St. Peter's Choir programs are available for the seasons 1919-1920 through 1948-1949. Several recordings of the Boys Choir are available on 78 and 45 RPM long playing discs. Other audio materials include CDs and audio cassettes. A few files from the early 1990s for the Girls', Women's, Men's, and Boys' Choirs are also present.
This series includes day books, journals, cash books, treasurers' accounts, Accounting Wardens' papers, pew rents, bequests, audit, tax and budget information, and other materials. This series is organized into eight sub-series: III.1 Church Wardens, III.2 Pew registers (1823-1966), III.3 General ledgers, III.4 Financial papers, III.5 Endowments, III.6 Bequests, wills, and legacies, III.7 Charity funds, and III.8 Pledge registers.
Sub-series III.1 Church wardens consists of cash books, day books, cash journals, treasurer's accounts, a general financial ledger, papers of Accounting Wardens, material relating to the Rector's Fund and Rector's House Account, loose bills and receipts, materials relating to the Endowment Fund, and other financial material. St. Peter's Church's earliest financial records were for many years maintained by an Accounting Warden, with the Rector having some funds available for use. It appears that records were kept off-site in the Accounting Warden's home office and returned to the church as needed or when the tenure had ended. Accounting Warden Clifford Lewis, Jr., sent an exhaustive set of files back to the church in the mid-20th century. The St. Peter's Archives moved a number of times as well. That combined with the lack of a central financial office in early years may account for gaps in these records. Beginning with the separation from Christ Church in 1832, Francis Gurney Smith took over the accounts for St. Peter's Church and continued to serve as Accounting Warden until 1872, when James Newbold assumed the post. Smith's years of service as well as those of some of his successors follow:
Francis Gurney Smith, 1832-1872 James S. Newbold 1873-1880 G. H. Fisher 1880-1895 William Lansdale 1895- John Cadwalader, Esq. Clifford Lewis, Jr. 1925- Frank E. Seymour
Some of the wardens' records overlap one another, and some are more extensive than others. Where possible, the records are identified by the creator. Materials from wardens Francis Gurney Smith, George H. Fisher, and Clifford Lewis Jr. are available. The church's general ledgers (in sub-series C.), cash books and day books were maintained by these accounting wardens but they are not complete.
Sub-series III.2 Pew registers (1823-1966) consists of three boxes of pew rent books, indicating amount paid, who paid for the sitting, number of seats, and other relevant information. There is some overlap in these volumes in later years. The pew rents, which begin in 1823, contain the earliest records in this series. For the most part, however, all financial records prior to 1832 were maintained at Christ Church, as the two churches' funds and operations were united at that time. Therefore, the records for earlier years are found at Christ Church.
Sub-series III.6 Bequests, wills, and legacies consists of three separate boxes of bequests filed by the name of the individual. These generally reflect monetary gifts to the parish for a specific purpose. Because they are monetary gifts, they are maintained with financial rather than legal records.
Sub-series III.7 Charity funds consists of four separate boxes of materials, arranged chronologically. St. Peter's Church administered a number of different charity funds over the years that ultimately may have merged into the endowment funds of today. The early charity funds, however, were strictly segregated with by-laws, descriptions and histories of the assorted funds printed for the use of the parish. These were periodically revised. They were often funded through bequests (see sub-series F). In 1975, charity funds were consolidated into the endowment funds, and the St. Peter's School Fund was transferred to the Church Foundation under a revocable trust agreement payable quarterly to the school. Many of the parish organizations had their own funds; some of these fall within the purview of the charity funds, but where the records are solely those of the organization, e.g. the Women's Missionary Society, they are found within the records of that particular series.
This series chronicles the life of the parish, its relationship with the dioceses, its make-up, personnel current activities', committees and legal issues. This series is further organized into thirteen sub-series: IV.1 Diocesan reports, IV.2 Census 1893, IV.3 Annual reports - Parish, IV.4 Directories, IV.5 Personnel, IV.6 In reach, IV.7 Outreach, IV.8 Stewardship, IV.9 Budgets, Investment Committee, IV.10 Legal, IV.11 Rector's Wardens' files, IV.12 Special committees and task forces, and IV.13 Special events. Although there are some materials in this series from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most materials appear to date from the 1960s to the early 2000s.
This series is comprised of approximately 20 boxes that are further divided into fourteen sub-series: V.1 Titles, deeds, V.2 Church, V.3 Bell tower, V.4 Steeple, V.5 Cross, V.6 Churchyard/graveyard, walls and gates, V.7 Third and Lombard streets, V.8 Lombard Street properties, V.9 St. Peter's House, V.10 Collections, V.11 Grounds, peripheral sidewalks, V.12 Other properties, V.13 Property Committee,and V.14 Blueprints, drawings, and plans.
Materials in this series include records related to St. Peter's Church building, designed by Scotsman Robert Smith and built between 1758 and 1763, and its bell tower and steeple, designed by William Strickland and added in 1842. (The deed transferring the land at 3rd and Pine Streets from the sons of William Penn to the Vestry of the United Churches of Christ Church and St. Peter's Church is in St. Peter's records vault.) Also in this group are materials about the surrounding churchyard/graveyard (which contains some 800 or more burials, both inhumations and cremations), the perimeter brick wall, iron gates and fences, adjacent St. Peter's School (now independent of the church), the parking lot, and various buildings that served as either the parish house, the rectory or both at different periods during the church's long history. Over the decades, St. Peter's also owned other pieces of real estate in Philadelphia that were used either for missionary work or were rented out to individuals or families. Documents pertaining to these properties are found mostly in this series, but there may also be some in Series III. Accounting and financial records. Sub-series V.12 Other properties includes materials related to Mt. Moriah Cemetery and St. Peter's Camp. Sub-series V.14 Blueprints, drawings, and plans is divided into two sub-sub-series: St. Peter's Church and St. Peter's Churchyard. Many of the materials is Sub-series V. 14 are oversized.
Drawings of the church made by the Historic American Building Survey in 1931 are included in this series, as is the successful application to the National Park Service for nominating the church for the National Register of Historic Places.
Over the years, the church, parish house and churchyard (including both the grave markers and the plantings) have received a good deal of attention from the parishioners, who wished to preserve, modernize or restore the property. Records of many of these efforts survive and provide an interesting perspective on the history of this building.
This series includes the records of a number of St. Peter's organizations. The records in this series date from 1816 to the present day, although several parish organizations in this time period are under-documented or remain un-documented. Most of these organizations were initiated and actively carried out by the women of the Church. Charitable in nature, these organization served the needy in the local area by providing clothing, food, and education. They also oversaw the Christian education of the parishioners. This series is divided into eleven sub-series: VI.1 Early Classes, 1816; VI.2 Female Sunday School Society, 1816; VI.3 Education Society, 1821; VI.4 Sunday School, 1839; VI.5 Male Sunday School, circa 1840; VI.6 Missionary Aid Society; VI.7 Ladies Missionary Aid Society; VI.8 St. Agnes' Guild; VI.9 Altar Guild; VI.10 Dorcas Society; VI.11 Girls Friendly Society; VI.12 Christian Education Committee, 1972; VI.13 Adult Education; VI.14 Sunday School, 1986-1987; and VI.15 Sages.
This series includes materials from and relating to other churches and organizations with which St. Peter's is affiliated. This series is divided into thirteen sub-series: VII.1 Christ Church, VII.2 St. Paul's Church/Episcopal Community Services (ECS), VII.3 Memorial Church of the Holy Comforter, VII.4 Chapel of the Transfiguration Episcopal Academy, VII.5 Other Christ Church Hospital, VII.6 Bishop White Prayer Book Society, VII.7 Female Episcopal Benevolent Society, VII.8 St. Peter's Branch of the Women's Auxiliary, VII.9 Women of St. Peter's, VII.10 Episcopal Women (ECW), VII.11 Church Historical Society, VII.12 Brotherhood of St. Andrew, and VII.13 Old Philadelphia Congregations.
This series includes the records of Historic St. Peter's Church Preservation Corporation and is divided into seven sub-series: VIII.1 Organizational and legal, VIII.2 Governance, VIII.3 Financial records, VIII.4 Fundraising, VIII.5 Publications, VIII.6 Projects, and VIII.7 Correspondence.
Historic St. Peter's Church Preservation Corporation (HSPCPC) was founded in 1991 as a non-sectarian, non-profit corporation, separate from the Vestry of St. Peter's Church, to preserve the church's historic buildings, artifacts and churchyard and the properties' architectural and historic legacies and to conduct interpretive programs for the public. Since then, HSPCPC has raised and spent more than 1 million dollars to preserve and restore the church's interior and exterior, select artifacts, and the churchyard's perimeter wall, fence, gates, grave markers, walkways and plantings; and to organize, preserve and make accessible its archives and historic collections. HSPCPC volunteers share information about the church with the public through guided tours of the church and churchyard, interpretive signs, a semi-annual newsletter, special programs and collaborative marketing. The relationship between St. Peter's Church and HSPCPC is governed by a Memorandum of Understanding, which can be found in sub-series 1 Organizational and legal records.
HSPCPC has undertaken numerous projects over the years. Records of those projects can be found in sub-series 4. Fundraising and sub-series 6. Projects. In addition, because HSPCPC deals with the church's physical properties, there is some cross filing between the HSPCPC series and other series including: V. Property records and XII. Photographs.
There are a great many photographs and catalog sheets associated with HSPCPC projects dealing with the churchyard and the grave markers. Many of these were assembled in 3-ring binders by the project contractors at the time of the projects and have been kept in their binders for the time being. Some large format architectural drawings and plans of the churchyard that were made as part of renovation projects may be found with other large-format documents in Series V. Property records, Sub-series 14. Blueprints, drawings and plans.
This series contains materials relating to the history of St. Peter's, its clergy and parishioners, the church's anniversary celebrations, and notable events that took place at St. Peter's including narrative histories, biographies of people associated with St. Peter's, anniversary planning materials, newspaper clippings, correspondence about events, and ephemera. The series is divided into three sub-series: IX.1 Church history, IX.2 People, and IX.3 Anniversaries/celebrations. A listing of the people included in sub-series 2 is available on site.
This series includes materials from and relating to St. Peter's School, a school founded in 1834 as an adjunct of St. Peter's Church, but as of 1969, is independent from the church. From the early 1900s until the 1960, the school also served as a choir school, providing intensive musical training in addition to academic schooling. The records in this series trace the development of the school from the first mention of a school house in 1709 to its current status as an independent coeducational school for preschool through eighth grade.
The early records show a concern for education; it was the Sunday School movement in the 1800s which underlay the establishment of the Day School in 1834. Prior to 1834, St. Peter's Sunday School endeavored to reduce illiteracy by providing classes on the Sabbath for poor children who had to work the other six days of the week. The Sunday School's curriculum consisted of learning to read and write with no direct religious teaching other than the fact that the reading material was the Bible. In 1832 a house was purchased at 319 Lombard Street for the Sunday School, which consisted in turn of a boys' school, a girls' school, and an infant school.
In 1834 a Day School was opened. It was open Monday through Friday from 9:00AM to 12:00 noon and from 2:00PM to 4:00PM for "girls and small boys." The object was to combine secular with religious instruction. As the school grew it required more space, and in 1873 a new building was constructed on the combined lots of 319 and 321 Lombard Street. That building also served as the Parish House until 1970 and is the core of the present school. In 1983 the Caroline E. Seamans Wing of the school was built at 323 Lombard Street.
After the renovations in the late 1800s the Day School became the St. Peter's Choir School, with Ernest Felix Potter serving as the choirmaster as well as the headmaster. This school was for boys only and consisted of grades three through eight. Families did not need to be affiliated with the Parish for their children to attend.
By 1959 the school was faced with declining enrollment, and the new rector, Joseph Koci, proposed separating the function of the choirmaster and headmaster. Dr. Gilbert, the headmaster and choirmaster at the time, resigned after 45 years of service. Mr. Koci filled the position of headmaster and the school became St. Peter's School for Boys, no longer a choir school. Morning chapel services were held and students had to pass an entrance exam to attend the school, which included grades three through nine.
In 1964 the school became coeducational and changed its name to St. Peter's School. The nursery school opened in 1964 and kindergarten and first grades were added the following year. In 1967, Caroline E. Seamans was appointed by the vestry as the first full-time head of the school.
In 1969 St Peter's School legally separated from St. Peter's Church and was incorporated as an independent school, becoming fully accredited by 1972.St. Peter's School purchased its original building from St. Peter's Church in 2015.
This series is divided into five sub-series based on the various names of the school: X.1 Day School, X.2 St. Peter's Choir School 1903-1960, X.3 St. Peter's School for Boys 1960-1964, X.4 St. Peter's School 1964-1969, and X.5 St. Peter's School 1969- (Independent from St. Peter's Church).
This series contains materials published by St. Peter's Church including calendars, bulletins, newsletters, yearbooks, directories, and other materials. This series is divided into five sub-series: XI.1 Bulletins, XI.2 Parish yearbooks, XI.3 Histories, general conventions, proceedings: Episcopal Church, XI.4 The Spire, and XI.5 Pamphlets.
The bulletins and calendars date from 1935 to 1968. Some have been bound and some are loose. After 1968, the bulletins and calendars evolved into St. Peter's current newsletter, The Spire, for which there is a complete fun from 1968 to the present day. As of 2014, this series only has directories from 1988 onward, but an effort is being made to locate earlier parish directories.
This series consists of approximately 2,500 photographs taken between 1837 and 2009. St. Peter's sanctuary has long been recognized for its architectural excellence and beauty. In 1998, the church was designated a National Historic Landmark. The majority of the photographs taken prior to 1940 have the architecture of the sanctuary, interior and exterior views, as their subject.
The collection is divided into four sub-series: XII.1 Church property, XII.2 Parish functions, XII.3 Parish people, and XII.4 St. Peter's choir.
Sub-series XII.1 Church Property
Church Interior - There are a large number of professional and good amateur photographs of the interior of the sanctuary decorated for Christmas and Easter. This group includes a number of glass plates, some with accompanying prints and others without. There are photos taken prior to the renovations to the interior (c. 1880), which enclosed the stairways at both ends of the sanctuary, creating storage rooms at the eastern end, and at the western end, a choir room and a storage area. For a time after this renovation, the latter space was used as a meeting area for the Vestry. Some early photographs show the sanctuary with all the stained glass windows in place. Most of the stained glass windows were replaced with plain glass prior to the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976 to recreate the original appearance of the sanctuary. A small group of photos show the work in progress to repair a fractured support beam in the sanctuary ceiling.
Church Exterior - Exterior shots of St. Peter's have been taken from north, south, east and west, both inside the property walls, and outside the walls from Third Street and Fourth Street, Pine Street and Lombard Street. Of the five glass plates dating from the late 1880s, three are exterior shots. Two were taken from the vicinity of Fourth and Pine streets, and one from Third and Pine streets. One of the exterior shots shows a woman and a young boy in clothing of the era. There are a few prints from these plates. This sub-subseries also includes images of the church's bell tower, steeple, and cross. There are photos for the spire and churchyard dated 1937 and a group of photos showing the steeple in its pre-restoration stage with some shots of work in progress on the steeple from 1977. There is complete photo documentation of the 2008 steeple restoration in the property files. In 1966, the cross was taken down from the steeple for restoration. The photographs show the descent of the cross, and the cross restored, re-gilded and placed in front of the sanctuary reading desk to show the scale. The ascent of the cross is also documented.
Churchyard and Graveyard - There are a number of general views of the grounds and plantings and of damage to trees and shrubs from disease and lightning. Included are shots of removal of dangerous trees, tree pruning, cabling and removal of debris. Implementation of a landscape plan is documented as is the replacement of cement walkways and water and sewer pipe repair. Several photos show the effects of vandalism on monuments and grave markers, as well as the restoration work in progress. Most of the restoration work was done by John Carr and his workers.
Parking Lot - Only one photo of the parking lot is included, showing a sycamore tree being removed at the edge of the parking lot on the Lombard Street side of the lot in 2001.
Lombard Street Properties -
St. Peter's House at Front and Pine streets - One photograph exists of the chapel at St. Peter's House. This property has long since been sold.
The Parish House at 313 Pine Street - Photos circa 1965 show the Parish House from both front and rear. The frontal view is a three-quarter view looking east, showing (pre-renovation) where 313 adjoined a demolished property. The City of Philadelphia acquired four properties under the Doctrine of Eminent Domain in order to construct the present open space and walkways to the west of 313 Pine Street. There are some pre- and post-renovation photos of the interior of 313 Pine Street.
Artifacts - Photos are available for all of the stained glass windows. The curator from the Philadelphia Museum of Art provided approximate evaluations for each brass and silver item in 1996 and these were documented with slides and prints. There are several photos of an altar table damaged by fire, its location and the damage itself. Also photographed is Bishop White's chair. The William Rush statues, Exhortation and Praise, were originally gilded. Photos of the statues show them pre-renovation and of their removal for restoration. A number of photos show the restored statues painted white. These statues are located at either side of the organ case above the altar at the east end of the church. The bust of Bishop White has also been photographed.
Sub-series XII.2 Parish functions
Religious Events - A glass plate shows the sanctuary altar decorated for Easter. Events that have been documented include the Greening of the Church for Christmas (1990-1992), the Christmas pageant, and the Blessing of the Animals (2000, undated). There are several photos of Easter flower arrangements in the church and plantings on St. Peter's walk (1996).
Official Events - There is a small group of photos taken between 1989 and 2006 showing the annual church meeting in 1989, a fund raiser for renovations to St. Peter's in 1995, a Vestry retreat in 1998, the 1998 event in the sanctuary commemorating St. Peter's designation as a National Historic Landmark, the Action AIDS dinner dance, and the 2005 Vestry leadership retreat.
Social Occasions - Photographs show parishioners involved in a variety of parish activities between 1966 and 1999 such as parish picnics, joint social occasions with other churches, Historic St. Peter's Church Preservation Committee trips, and the Philadelphia Phillies playing baseball. Many parishioners are identified. There are numerous photos of the social following the institution of the Rev. Ledlie Laughlin as the 20th rector of St. Peterâ€™s in 1999, as well as the Strawberry Festival, Homecoming Sunday, Bishop Turner's visit and choir camp activities. Most participants have been identified.
Outreach Missions - Photographs from the Food Cupboard program, Guatemala Committee, Camp Getalong, the Walk Against Hunger, and other missions are found here.
In reach Missions - There is a large number of photos of churchyard volunteers (Church Gardeners) participating in a variety of clean-up activities. Most of the photos are undated. A few are from 1991 and 1992 and one photograph of the annual churchyard volunteers' picnic, circa 1995. These photographs have most of the parishioners identified. Other groups represented in this collection are Historic St. Peter's Church Preservation Committee on a trip to Talbot, Maryland, in 1997, the Knitting Group at a 2009 meeting held at parishioner Patricia Fusco's home, the Book Group, Lay Pastoral Care, and Youth Groups.
Sub-series XII.3 People
Portraits of Past St. Peter's Rectors, Bishops and Prominent Congregants - Photographs of portraits of past rectors include Rector DuchÃ© (circa Revolutionary War), J. A. Wadlow (circa early 1900s), Thomas S. Davies, and the Rev. E. M. Jeffries among others. Three portraits (circa early 1880s) are housed in the Frick Museum, New York, possibly of St. Peter's congregants of that time. There are copies of the portraits. Included is a photo portrait of congregant John Cadwalader.
Vestry Members, Chairs of Committees, Congregants in Leadership Positions - There are photos of the 1998 Vestry leadership retreat and the 2005-2006 Vestry retreat.
Parishioners - There is a large group of photographs of parishioners circa 1985-2000. Unfortunately, the identity of a majority of these people has not been ascertained. There is one early photograph, circa 1920, of seven young men posing in the graveyard around a monument possibly dedicated to a family member.
Sub-series XII.4 Choir
This group includes a photographic portrait of H. W. Gilbert, Headmaster of St. Peter's School and Choir Master from 1919 to 1960, along with a copy of his curriculum vitae; a 1925 group portrait of the Van Leer family choristers; a group portrait of the classes of 1939, 1940, and 1941 Men's Choir and a group portrait of Dr. Gilbert's choir, circa 1950; and a group photo of Tom Wittemore and his choir. Each year the Boys and Girls Choir attend choir camp at the Jersey Shore. There is a record of the children enjoying leisure time activities at choir camp in 1999 and few photos of rehearsal time. There are approximately 20 photos of the Boys', Men's, Girls', and Women's Choirs used in a fundraising booklet, circa 2002-2003. These photos show choristers both in rehearsal and at ease in the choir room. Almost all of the choristers have been identified.