Smithfield United Church of Christ
Location Name: Smithfield United Church of Christ (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
Location Type: Church (United Church of Christ)
Year Completed: 1926
Architect(s): Henry Hornbostel
Pittsburgh’s first organized church, Smithfield United Church of Christ traces its roots back to 1782, when a non-denominational church was established by German immigrant farmers and merchants. The first German congregation west of the Allegheny Mountains, this church quickly developed a divide between those of the Lutheran and Reformed traditions. While sharing one pastor, each congregation conducted itself nearly separate from one another. This was mostly solved in 1787 when John Penn, Sr. and John Penn, Jr. (descendants of William Penn) granted the two congregations land along Smithfield Street. Then the outskirts of Pittsburgh, the congregations built two separate churches in 1792.
After two decades of separation, both churches came together in 1812 and formed the German Evangelical Protestant Church. Over the next century Pittsburgh expanded well beyond Smithfield Street, and the German Evangelical Protestant Church continued to serve from various buildings located on the present site. The current church is the fifth church to be built on the property granted by the Penn family.
Architect Henry Hornbostel was chosen to build a new structure which was consecrated in 1926. The steel structure of the church allowed for the use of formstone (a pre-cast limestone mixture), for the exterior walls. Since thicker stone walls were not necessary to support the weight of the building, Smithfield was able to maximize interior space and allow for many windows. Notable features of the 1926 church include a large square tower topped by a decorative openwork aluminum spire, and a nice collection of stained glass work. Along the sides of the sanctuary, stained glass windows depict Biblical scenes as well as Pittsburgh history. High above the altar is an 18-foot diameter rose window that was originally part of the previous 1877 church on the same location.Sources