Church celebrates Bicentennial
When the church was founded, the area was part ofAmerica's vast frontier.
By JULIE A. WAGNER
VINDICATOR RELIGION EDITOR
Hubbard First Presbyterian Church has preserved its 200 years of history in a book, in a building and in its congregation.
In honor of its bicentennial celebration, the church has put together a detailed history of the church that began in a log structure in the early 1800s along North Main Street (U.S. Route 62) north of the current downtown.
Meanwhile, members are working to rebuild another former church building built in 1857 and dismantled and stored in 1995.
And some congregation members are direct descendants of three of the church's founding fathers.
Bill Mitchell, a member of the Bicentennial planning committee, has researched and plans to print a book detailing the history of the church. It tells the story of three Tylee brothers -- Sylvester, Samuel and Tim -- who came to the Hubbard area in the early 1800s when it was still part of the vast frontier.
In 1801, Samuel Tylee was appointed as the agent of Nehemiah Hubbard, who owned 1,600 acres upon which the city would be established. His wife, Anna, wasn't so sure about the move, according to Mitchell's research. So, she was promised a gift of 100 acres to come west.
When some of the city's first settlers formed the First Presbyterian Society in 1804, Sylvester Tylee was listed as a church elder, and Samuel as a member. Tim was probably among the original 10 men and their families who were members, Mitchell said.
Today, several members of the church can trace their family trees back to one of the three brothers, he said.
In 1806, the church built a log structure at the south end of the Old North Cemetery on North Main Street. In 1828, the church bought a lot a few hundred feet south of the original structure and built a church. There aren't any pictures of that church, but Mitchell said it was likely a frame church like others built at that time. Mitchell said that history doesn't show whether the cemetery expanded onto the lands where the churches had been.
In the mid-1850s, the church sold its land and church to Hubbard Township trustees for $56 and bought about six-tenths of an acre at Hager Street and what is now West Liberty Street, just two blocks from the center of town. It was purchased for $100 from Maria Hager and Eliza Clingan, who were the daughters of Samuel Tylee.
There, the members built a church in 1857 that would be their home for 102 years.
In 1959, the church faced the challenges of a growing congregation.
"After the war, there were a lot of new families being formed, babies being born," Mitchell said, "Membership was going up real fast." Members considered a proposal to build an education center where the manse stood, and then a new church, which also called for more land.
"Apparently, people on the other two sides didn't want to sell," he said.
So, they built their current sanctuary at 22 Westview Ave. and planned to continue Sunday school at the old church.
"It soon became apparent that wasn't going to work," he said. The logistics of going between the two churches were bad, and the First Assembly of God had agreed to buy the old church if they could move in right away. So the church entered the second construction phase early, and built its classroom wing three to four months later.
The First Assembly of God Church used the building until 1995, when it sold the site to the Rite Aid drug store chain.
Community members, including First Presbyterian Church member Judy Ruby of the group Hubbard Conservation and Restoration Effort Society (Hubbard CARES) prevented the bulldozing of the historic building. Instead, the building was dismantled by Amish workers and church volunteers. The outside, the interior woodwork, pews and steeple are now in storage. Ruby said Hubbard CARES has received permission from Harding Park's board to locate the church on a site in the park. The group has hired an architect and hopes to rebuild the church soon.
Hubbard First Presbyterian has planned several events to mark its 200th anniversary, including a banquet Saturday and a special service Sunday. In September, the church honored those who had been members for 50 to 70 years. The church will sell cups, shirts and wood and glass keepsakes.
The church currently has about 280 members, led by its pastor, the Rev. J. Larry Stewart.