As early as 1797 several Presbyterian missionaries began conducting services in the rural area of Plain Grove in western Pennsylvania. In the fall 1799 a small group of Scots-Irish settlers organized a Presbyterian church which they called “Plain Grove.” A small log cabin (shown above) was erected to serve as a house of worship.
The small log cabin at Plain Grove was replaced by a larger version (shown above) in 1805. A cemetery was also established on the church grounds along Plain Grove Road. The new church was closely associated with the Center Presbyterian Church in Grove City. The Rev. William Wood was installed as the first fulltime pastor and served from 1802-1816.
The Reverend Wood, serving both Plain Grove and Center Churches, organized efforts and under his supervision the combined congregations both grew to 175 by 1815. In 1834 the second log cabin church was replaced with a small brick church (shown above) at the same location. In 1859 a “New School” portion of the congregation broke away and formed the Plain Grove United Presbyterian Church (North Plain Grove) about a mile to the north. (c1895)
The Rev. John Munson served as pastor from 1818-1838. He was pastor when the Schism of 1837 began to fracture the national Presbyterian Church. (c1865)
The Rev. Robert D. Walker served as pastor from 1839-1872. Under his term a group of members broke away to form their own church in 1859. (c1870)
The pastor from 1874-1882 was the Rev. Robert McCaslin. (c1880)
In 1895 construction of a new church commenced just across the street from the old church and cemetery. The new Plain Grove Presbyterian Church (South Plain Grove), built on land previously donated by former parishioner Michael Jordan (1803-1888), cost $13,500 and opened in 1896. The church served the local community for many decades. In 1958 the two churches in Plain Grove were “reunited” (through a national merger) as the Plain Grove United Presbyterian Church, but maintained the two buildings known as North Plain Grove and South Plain Grove. They also began sharing a pastor in 1964. I believe the North Plain Grove building was closed by early 1986 and its members were basically absorbed into the South Plain Grove Church – which became known as the Plain Grove Presbyterian Church. (c1900)
The Manse of the church that was erected in 1865. (c1890)
In 1958 the two congregations in Plain Grove were merged to become the Plain Grove United Presbyterian Church, but maintained the two buildings known as North Plain Grove and South Plain Grove (shown above). Both buildings remained open for the next several decades. (1949)
The 99-year-old Plain Grove Presbyterian Church (South Plain Grove) was lost to a devastating fire on Thursday, February 16, 1995. The congregation was already planning an addition to the old church and essentially had a head start on moving forward with a complete new building. The old church was soon cleared away and work on a new building commenced in August 1995. In the meantime the congregation held its services at nearby locations to include the East Lawrence Elementary School. The new $1.2 million church (shown above) opened for services on May 26, 1996. In 1999 the congregation celebrated its 200th anniversary and is still going strong today. (May 2012) Full Size