Have you always wanted to see inside some of the historic churches of Greensburg, with their delicate spires and bell towers, all decorated for the Christmas season?
Saturday, you'll get an early holiday wish. The Greensburg Garden Center is sponsoring a tour of five historic churches, all decorated in their finest greens and poinsettias by five local florists.
"I picked the churches because of their interesting architecture. This is the first year for the tour; in the past we've done house tours at Christmas," said Donna Lee, who is coordinating the event for the garden center.
One on the tour, The First Presbyterian Church on South Main Street, was designed by famed American architect Ralph Adams Cram, who also designed the East Liberty Presbyterian Church and the chapel at Princeton University. The church was organized in 1877 with the first building in the St. Clair Park section of the city. The stone church was built in 1916, the Rev. Martin Ankrum said. Its design is the Gothic Revival that was popular at the time, marked by the pointed arches in window design and dormer windows, all reminiscent of the medieval churches of Europe.
"It's a subtle design inside," Rev. Ankrum said, "with carved wood thistles, reminiscent of the Scottish churches. The stained-glass windows were originally green glass. We have two major stained-glass windows, one with a Passion theme and the other with a war memorial theme."
At the First United Methodist Church on East Second Street, the most prominent features of the early English Gothic design are the stained-glass windows.
The church was first organized in 1799, when residents met in homes. The original building was constructed in 1833, but larger buildings were required and the current building was dedicated in 1907.
The 11 stained glass windows in the sanctuary were dedicated from 1968 to 1970 and depict the history of Greensburg as well as important events in the history of the church. One window, for example, depicts a 1933 fire that destroyed the sanctuary. In addition, there is a large Nativity window in the front of the building above the porch entrance.
The church tour will begin at 12:30 p.m. at the Otterbein United Methodist Church on College Avenue, and will include the First United Methodist Church on East Second Street; the First Reformed United Church of Christ on South Maple; the First Evangelical Lutheran Church on South Main, and will end at 4:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church.
Each 45-minute church tour will include a talk by the church pastor, detailing the architecture and history of the church and musical entertainment.
At some, participants will have a chance to sing traditional Christmas carols played by the church organist; at others guest soloists and orchestras will provide musical selections.
The churches also will display traditional holiday decorations, such as an annual collection of community creches at the First United Methodist Church.
Each church will be decorated by a different Greensburg florist.
Laura Fedorko, of Johnston the Florist, will decorate the Presbyterian church. She said she will use lots of fresh greens -- white pine, balsam and fir. She expects to use garlands and lots of poinsettias, as well.
"We grow all our own poinsettias at a farm near White Oak," she said. "So we will probably use a lot of them. We'll start with what the church likes to do, and go from there."
The Presbyterian church also uses torches with candles at the end of every third pew for their seasonal decorations.
Other participating florists are Gary Pratt of Le Jardin Florals and Home Accents, Patrick and Susann Thomas of Joseph Thomas Flower Shop, Tracy Faulk of In Full Bloom Floral & Gift Shoppe and Jim Shawl of The Curly Willow Exceptional Florals & Gifts.
Mrs. Lee said the tour can accommodate 400 participants.
She said people should park near the Otterbein Church, either at the train station or in the public garage on West Otterman, and following that presentation they will drive to parking lots near the remaining four churches, which are within walking distance of each other. A map of public parking lots will be provided.
The tour will finish at the First Presbyterian Church, where refreshments will be served. Tickets are $20. Call 724-837-0245.
Debra Duncan, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org