St. Peter's Episcopal Church

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St. Peter's Church

St. Peter's Church with a 5-story bell tower and steeple

© 2005 Steve Zettler

Construction of St. Peter's began in 1758 to meet the growing size of the Anglican congregation at Christ Church. The reputation of Robert Smith, the carpenter-builder-architect1 was already such that in building the church he had "access to the best workmen in the city and . . . sought each for his own specialty." Construction was not completed until 1761, in good measure because of the difficulty of meeting its costs. The long-span roof truss at St. Peters, providing an interior free of columns, was typical of the eight churches Smith designed in Philadelphia.

Lewis's visits to Governor Thomas McKean brought him diagonally across the intersection from the church. It did not yet have its four-story tower and steeple, nor the graves of men whose names would be linked with his. Nicholas Biddle was 17 years old in 1803. Charles Willson Peale had yet to paint the portraits of the two explorers, but he had started his museum when he lived just a block south of the church. Both Biddle and Peale are interred here.

Out of view to the right of the church, along Fourth Street, stand seven Osage orange trees grown from cuttings Lewis brought back from Pierre Chouteau's garden in St. Louis.


1. Sea captain John MacPherson's house, Mount Pleasant; Franklin's mansion off Market Street; Walnut Street Prison; and the east wing of the Pennsylvania Hospital.

Funded in part by a grant from the NPS Challenge-Cost Share Program