Paul Presbyterian Church (circa 1923)

Paul Presbyterian Church - circa 1925

The Paul Presbyterian Church, 2001 Pioneer Avenue, has been standing at the corner of Pioneer and Dunster Street for over ninety years. The church has a storied history here in Brookline, snippets of which we can list here.

The cornerstone for the church was laid on July 15, 1923 and the completed church was dedicated on December 9, 1923. Both of these ceremonies were conducted by the first pastor, Reverend Richard L. Biddle.

The new church cost $25,000 and was named after Mrs. Elizabeth Paul, a prominent Brookline landowner who donated the land and a substantial donative towards the construction of the church.

The building committee was composed of Professor Joseph F. Moore, principal of Brookline and West Liberty Elementary Schools, S.E. Lippert and E.O. Rader. The church was founded by J.M. Elliott.

One of the features of the Paul Presbyterian Church were the beautiful stained glass windows, donated by Mrs. Paul. The large one in the front of the building was in memory of her brother John Holmes.

Paul Presbyterian Church - 1940s    Paul Presbyterian Church - 1940s
A service in the Paul Presbyterian Church in the 1940s.

The church was in service through the 1960s. It is not know at this time when the church was disbanded. The church was eventually taken over by the Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church. The stained glass windows are no longer there.

According to the current pastor, the windows were damaged and in need of repair. The cost of repairing them would have been high. It was more reasonable to replace them. Also, with this being a rather conservative Presbyterian denomination, displaying the image of Jesus above God ran contrary to the First Commandment, and replacing them was more in line with their beliefs.

Paul Presbyterian Church - December 1923    Paul Presbyterian Church - December 1923
Clippings showing the church at the time of the dedication and the inset is Reverend Richard L. Biddle.

The Paul Church was at one time one of the main churches in Brookline. Several prominent Brookline landowners and businessmen, including Professor Joseph F. Moore, were members of the congregation. The Boy Scout Troop that was sponsored by the church was one of the best in Pittsburgh.

Paul Presbyterian Church Choir (circa 1945)
The Paul Presbyterian Church Choir (circa 1945).

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The Paul Church - 2016
The Paul Presbyterian Church in 2016 after the stained glass windows over the doors were replaced.

Reverend Stewart

Reverend Stewart and Family - 1940s
Long-time Paul Presbyterian leader Reverend Stewart, sons John and Frank, and wife Mildred.

Mike O'Toole grew up as a member of the Paul Presbyterian Church. He knew Reverend Stewart, well and shares some of his memories here:

Reverend Stewart was a WWI vet who fought for Canada. I don't know when he came to the states. He was heavily involved with the Boy scouts, and we met at the church on Friday nights during the school year. He was a tough man with a BIG heart. He also ruled with a heavy hand, literally sometimes. Anyone who ever went to his scout night has a fond memory of those times.

He also was heavily into gardening, especially Dahlias. He often entered them in contests. I had an article of him with his dahlias at a contest at Phipps Conservatory. He also raised the flowers for his Paul Presbyterian church and another church on the North Side.

Reverend Stewart with his Dahlias.
Reverend Stewart with his prize Dahlias.

Reverend Stewart used to take us to "Camp Moore," located somewhere in Butler county once a year in the early fall. We would take a once a year hiking trek to South Park in the spring, where we would have some groves reserved.

I would go to Reverend Stewarts home early on Friday nights and we would sit and talk for a while before I rode to the church with him. We went in the front and my job was to open up the back where all of the other kids would be waiting to come in to the basement of the church. We had an open session at the beginning of the meeting. Most of us played basketball. But when "Rev" blew his whistle you better stop and freeze ... you could here the basketball bouncing after that whistle blew.

Reverend Stewart and his son John in 1954.
Reverend Stewart and his son John in 1954.

We were instructed to pull out some folding chairs and form a circle. Reverend Stewart would talk to us about a whole host of things. After that we played some different games, mostly in teams, like crab soccer, basketball or a board baseball game with huge darts.

Reverend Stewart was good to a lot of people. He would often give me vegetables or flowers to take home to my Mom. He would give us kids twenty-five cents per praying mantis, and he would put them in his garden for a natural pesticide.

His son Frank is the only one left in the family, and he lives in the Stewart's old home on LaMarido Street.

Click on images for larger photos

* Photos provided by Frank Stewart, Scott Price and Mike O'Toole *

The Paul Church - 2004
The Paul Presbyterian Church in 2004 before the stained glass windows over the doors were replaced.

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