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Old Stone Church
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Old Stone Church
Courtesy of the Cleveland Press Collection, Cleveland State University Library

The Old Stone Church is an excellent, early example of the Romanesque Revival style and one of the best remaining designs of the Cleveland architectural firm of Heard and Porter. Simeon Porter, from Hudson, Ohio, was a well-known and respected master builder of the Classical Revival Style. He was responsible for designing many of the Western Reserve College buildings such as the College Chapel, the North College, the Observatory and the Athenaeum. He also designed many residences in and around the town of Hudson. Charles Heard developed his reputation working with his father-in-law Jonathan Goldsmith, a master builder during the early settlement of the Western Reserve. Heard was well-known in the Cleveland area for his residential designs, many of which were built on Euclid Avenue, the street of mansions. In 1848, Heard hired Porter as master builder and the partners completed three churches, a number of public schools and residences.

[photo] Historic view of the Old Stone Church, late 19th century
Courtesy of the Cleveland Press Collection, Cleveland State University Library

Built in 1853, for the First Presbyterian Society, the Old Stone Church displays semi-circular arches and massive sandstone walls. The church has been renovated twice, after two separate fires destroyed the interior of the church, leaving no choice but to gut the building. After the first fire in 1857, the original architects, Heard and Porter, were hired to rebuild the interior. In 1884 after the second fire, Charles Schweinforth redesigned the interior as close to the original as possible. The new interior contained many leaded glass windows, including "Beside the Still Water," the "Recording Angel" and the "Sower," all from the studios of Louis Comfort Tiffany. The building currently contains barrel vault ceilings and carved wood columns. The east and west walls contain an arcade of rounded arches. The church originally had a 228-foot-high spire, which was weakened beyond repair in 1884, and then removed. The Old Stone Church is now the only remaining church designed by the Heard and Porter firm.

The Old Stone Church is located at 91 Public Sq., in Cleveland. It is open to the public 11:45am to 1:15pm, Monday-Thursday. For further information call 216-241-6145 or visit the church's website. The Old Stone Church has also been documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey.


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