Category Archives: History

From The Archives …

Efforts to form an Episcopal Mission in Wadsworth were initiated during the summer of 1958 under the leadership of Mr. And Mrs. Robert Couch, Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Chase, and Mr. Charles Bunting along with the help and encouragement of the supply priest at St. Andrew’s, Barberton, The Rev. Richard H. Wertz. The Rev. Ralph Cousins became rector of the Barberton church in the fall of 1958, and the effort to establish a church in Wadsworth gained impetus due to the Rev. Cousins’ great interest. With his help, an organizational meeting was arranged with the Venerable Donald Wonders, D.D. Archdeacon of the Diocese of Ohio, in attendance.

On December 17, 1958, a group of 45 people, consisting of interested members of St. Andrew’s, Barberton, St. Paul’s, Medina and The Church of Our Saviour, Akron, met in the social room of the Wadsworth Public Library to learn what steps would be necessary to form a mission. The Rev. G.E. Lund of The Church of Our Saviour, Akron, and The Rev. Ralph Cousins aided in the discussion. The group voted in favor of the project, and a committee of nine was named to develop plans for a place of worship. The date of the initial service and other necessary details were to be left to Archdeacon Wonders and the members of the organizational committee. The committee was as follows: Robert Couch, Chairman, Russell Presnall, Herbert Reese, Earnest Fallows, Richard Baumgardner, Reginald Mayer, and Mrs. Charles E. Chase all of Wadsworth and W.J. Smithwick and William Holt of Rittman. At a meeting of the committee on December 30, 1958 additional officers were elected. Russell Presnall became Vice Chairman; Richard Baumgardner, Secretary; and Kenneth Glover was added to the group as Treasurer.

By late March 1959, the plans had been approved by the Diocese, with the Rev. Cousins being appointed Priest-in-Charge of the new mission. After investigating various places in Wadsworth, the Wadsworth Recreation Center (the current Senior Center) was obtained for use as a place of worship since it had room for storage and possible Sunday school rooms. The cost was $10 per week. Flowers for the altar were given by St. Paul’s, Medina, with the bulletins being provided by St. Andrew’s, Barberton. 87 people attended the first service of the Episcopal Church in Wadsworth on the 4th Sunday after Easter, April 26th, at 9:15 a.m. The Rev. Ralph Cousins officiated, Dorothy MacDougal played the piano, Kenneth Fallows was the acolyte and Bill Holt and Reg Mayer were ushers. The church bulletin for that service included the following message from Rev. Cousins:

“We invite you to work with us in starting this new church. We need your help in the many tasks that lie ahead, and we want to share with you the satisfaction of proclaiming the Christian message in this community. We are starting a mission, and it requires that each of us be a missionary. Perhaps the most effective way for us to witness to our faith and support this congregation is by our personal word and encouragement to the friends we have in this community to join us. This will be an exciting experience for all of us, and I feel especially privileged to be a part of this endeavor with you.”

This is a picture from the first service of the Wadsworth Mission later known as St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. Click on the picture to enlarge it. 

History of the St. Mark’s Church Building

The St. Mark’s church building plays an important part in the rich heritage of several religious groups. Over the years, the building has housed Congregational, Mennonite and Episcopal congregations, beginning with the early settlers of the “Ohio Country”. Wadsworth, at the edge of the lands of the Western Reserve of Connecticut, first attracted settlers from Connecticut and other New England states in the year 1814, a group of Congregationalist pioneers migrated to the Western Reserve from New England, settled in Wadsworth, and built a log structure on the church site. Several years later, the original structure was taken down to make way for a more elaborate building. Few details are known about this building.

The church, built in 1842, is considered a classic of early Western Reserve architecture and is also a fine example of Greek Revival architecture. The Wadsworth Heritage states, the building “spans all the Wadsworth eras with simple dignity and grace.”

The church was designed by George Hinsdale, and was constructed under the supervision of George Lyman, Sherman Loomis and Dr. G.R. Pardee. Because of the efforts of vestryman John Moss, the National Park Service of the Department of the Interior listed the building in the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. St. Mark’s is the oldest structure in Wadsworth.

Below are various pictures that have been taken of the building.   Click on picture to enlarge and for more information.