A History of the Parish House

By: Linda Fenical, Past President of the Hummelstown Area Historical Society

The Parish House has experienced many changes since it’s creation in 1815. Hover over the image to the left to view the transformation.

Can you spot some of the differences? Read below to learn more about them!

The following timeline was compiled by Linda Fenical, Past President of the Hummelstown Area Historical Society
Parish House Constructed

The limestone church, less additions, was built and the cornerstone laid on May 15, 1815.

James Madison was President of the United States. The building was dedicated August 25, 1816.

The interior was built with a 12 foot pulpit surmounted by a sounding board topped by a dove with an olive branch in its beak stationed there from 1824 to 1855.  This would indicate that there was no horizontal division into the three floors as is the case now. The dove is in the relic room of the Zion Lutheran Church on West Main Street.

Pipe Organ

A pipe organ, built in Lititz at a cost of $775 was carted by wagon on a two day trip and then installed on the west wall.  The dedication was on September 27, when the Parish House was lighted by candles.


The east limestone wall was moved 12 feet to accommodate the new vestibule and the double staircase to the upper floors. The church was remodeled at a cost of $4,120.63. The interior was greatly changed during this renovation and the ground floor appeared to be used as a Sunday school. The second floor became the present sanctuary with the galleries on three sides becoming a third floor. A steeple was added to the “new” east end addition.

German was spoken until 1862.


The historic structure was closed when the congregation occupied the new brownstone church at the corner of West Main and Rosina (Rosanna) Streets. It was condemned and vacant for almost 20 years.

Lightning Strikes

Lightning struck the steeple on May 20 and it was partially removed July 2 and covered with tin.

Brownstone Addition

A one story brownstone brick addition was built on the west end. The steeple was totally removed. The building was renovated again for use as a Sunday school.

"Come Unto Me"

The alter painting, “Come Unto Me” was presented by the pastor of the Zion Lutheran Church and his wife, Dr. and Mrs. Clarence T. Leatherman.

School in Session

Overcrowding at the Price Elementary School required students to be taught at the Parish House. Instruction for third and fourth graders occurred there for students who resided in the western part of Hummelstown. By 1958, the Hummelstown School System paid Zion Lutheran church $2,000 as rent for two rooms in the Parish House.

Society Becomes Caretaker

The Sunday school was moved to the new addition of the Zion Lutheran church on Main Street and the Parish House was once again closed. The building stood vacant and age was taking its toll. Amid rumors that it was to be demolished in favor of a parking lot for the church, the Historical Society, founded in 1971, evolved as its caretaker. A lease was signed with the Zion Lutheran Church on January 1, 1973 with the Historical Society and eventually extended to the end of the century.

National Register Historic Places

The Parish House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Limestone Campaign

Limestone Campaign was organized to repair the entire exterior of the east wall with a final cost of $9,130. Repointing of the limestone was done and the cornices and flashing boards were repaired and painted.

Society Purchases Parish House

The Hummelstown Area Historical Society purchased the Parish House from the Zion Lutheran Church, the same year of the 250th Anniversary of the town’s founding in 1762 by Frederick Hummel, who is buried in the Hummel Cemetery located at the Parish House.

HVAC Updates

New heating and air conditioning installed throughout three floors of the building.

ADA Bathroom and Kitchen Renovation

New bathroom installed on first floor with ADA regulations, kitchen refurbished.

Water Damage Forces Major Repairs to First Floor

Major repairs to first floor meeting rooms due to water damage with new ceiling and flooring installed.

50th Anniversary Celebration

Celebrations held for the 50th year of the founding of the Hummelstown Area Historical Society.

Visit the Historical Society

Library & Offices are housed at the 1908 History House, located at 32 W. Main Street, Hummelstown, PA 17036

Museum is located at the 1815 Parish House located directly behind the Zion Lutheran Church at the corner of Rosanna Street and North Alley

We'd Love Your Support

As a non-profit, educational institution, the Hummelstown Area Historical Society relies on the generous support of individuals, businesses, foundations, and local and state governments to fund our programs. 

With your support, we can ensure the next 50 years of preserving the history of our wonderful community.

Hummelstown Treasure is a project of the Hummelstown Area Historical Society.

The Hummelstown Area Historical Society is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit.

Copy of 50th
© Hummelstown Area Historical Society, 2021
32 W. Main Street
Hummelstown, PA 17036