The First St. Peter's Lutheran Church
N side of E German St, directly across the street from Christ Reformed Church. Here in 1795, the Lutherans built a beautiful brick church which served the congregation until 1908, when they constructed a new St. Peter’s on the SW corner of King and High Sts. The old church building burned in 1924. The church graveyard, established in 1774, remains intact but is no longer used. The old German schoolhouse still stands in the graveyard.
Backstory and Context
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Shepherdstown was officially established in 1765, after the founding of Mecklenburg (today Shepherdstown). Six men founded the church, one being Martin Endler, the first in the line of Entlers. The first church was located next to the railroad tracks, on German Street. Pastors often served many churches in northern Virginia and southern Maryland because they were in short supply. The first pastor for the church was Reverend Mr. Bauer in 1766, but he was not a Lutheran pastor. He was a Christ Reformed Church pastor and also preached for the Lutheran Church.
The second Lutheran pastor was Carl Wilbahn from Germany, because the German citizens “were unwilling to join the English Church” (From the Journals of Henry Melchoir Muhlenberg, vol. 2). During the Civil War, the town became a hospital after the Battle of Antietam and the Lutheran Choir sang at the burials of those lost after the Battle. After the war, the church remodeled to add an addition and a basement. The church installed a pipe organ shortly after the renovation.The location of the church became an issue, many members wanted to move. The railroad tracks provided a safety concern for children crossing the tracks, as well as an irritating train schedule. The Norfolk and Western train passed by on Sunday right during the pastor’s sermon. So the Ladies Aid Society began raising the money and bought the current lot on King and High Street.
Bryant, Betty Lou. 250th Anniversary, St. Peter's Lutheran Church, 1765-2015. The Shepherdstown Chronicle. September 11, 2015. Accessed May 16, 2017. http://www.shepherdstownchronicle.com/page/content.detail/id/513537/250th-Anniversary--St--Peter-s-Lutheran-Church--1765-2015.html?nav=5091