The Park Church
If the name Beecher rings a bell it may be because of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famous literary work Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but Elmira has its own famous Beecher in Thomas K. Beecher, reverend of the Park Church from 1854 until his death in 1900. Designed by famous New York architect Horatio Nelson White, the Park Church is generally known as the “first institutional church in America” and was constructed out of limestone and brick between 1872 and 1876, replacing the smaller wooden structure that once stood in its place. An institutional church is created based on the idea that community activities should center around the church building. Therefore, a building capable of housing a library, a parlor, and other such rooms meant for recreational use, was essential to the function of the church. Known for its abolitionist and humanitarian congregation, Park Church was the summer church of Mark Twain and his family.
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