St. Mark's Lutheran Church

After work began on the new Market Street Bridge in the late 1940's St. Mark's had to make some decisions.  The Church would be surrounded on two sides by heavily traveled ramps.  The dilemma posed by the construction, and the future of St. Mark's was discussed in this letter from Church Council to the membership:

Dear Members of St. Mark’s Church:

We are sending you this summary of our conclusions concerning a policy to be followed by our church during and immediately after the construction of the new Market Street Bridge.  We believe it to be sound and hope that you agree with us.

What we have long envisioned is now here the Market Street Bridge is being constructed, Physically, the only part of our property to be touched or destroyed is the dwelling house on Market Street just south and a corner of our land east of the Church.  But just what the nuisance damage will be remains most uncertain.

We know that our Church will be isolated in the “Y” formed by the Market Street and the Mulberry Street ramps. The Market Street ramp will carry 2-way traffic. It will be some 18 feet high in front of the Church and about 30 feet away on Market Street. The Mulberry Street ramp (carrying only northbound traffic) will be some 12 feet east of the southeast corner of our Church.

Time alone will reveal how much the traffic noises will interfere with our church services.

Your Church Council has been studying for many months the future of St. Mark Church Here are some of the basic facts:

St Mark’s has been in its present location for 98 years.

It is carrying out a Church and Sunday School and neighborhood service in this location most successfully.

We have just finally and most beautifully completed our Church School and Parish House building at a total cost of more than $125,000.

We serve a congregation which lives not only in Williamsport, but in large numbers in South Wil1iamsport.

Ours is a most loyal congregation, now measured in the third and fourth generations.

Our neighborhood program - really a Home Mission is - doing a superb job.

What of the future?

We have all looked forward to the day when we could have a new Church - a large auditorium — perhaps on ground level.  Our present building was set high to be out of the floods - but the dikes are now our protection.

Where should we build such a Church?

There are sound reasons why we should move out of the congested. down—town area-abandon all we have and locate a completely new plant elsewhere. But against this view come the questions: (1) Where might we locate end not interfere with another Lutheran Church? (2) If we move we would have to again build a Sunday School building which would cost nearly as much as a new Church itse1f. (3) What would we do about our Home Mission field?

Largest of all stands the question - Who can say now just how much damage we will suffer from the noise of the new bridge traffic?

After much deliberation your Church Council arrived at one definite conclusion:

This is not the time for either the Council or the Congregation to determine definitely the future of St Mark’s. Better wait until the bridge is completed and in service and have first hand knowledge about what to do.

Then came the question: can we do anything now to secure our future if the completed bridge interfered in some way with our work and worship. Where could a new church auditorium be built to overcome any interference which might arise,

The answer seemed apparent when opportunity came to buy the Mahlon H. Ulmer property at 158 to 166 Market Street This property would give us a plot of ground 156 feet on Market Street and 208 feet deep with the exception of the Vogel property (25 by 76) just next to the Parish House.

Your Council has purchased the Ulmer property — for two purposes:

(1) As an investment. The apartments in the Ulmer home — and the lease to the Montour Auto Service Co for the operation of the Tydol Gas Station, provide a return on Building Fund monies larger and We believe as safe as the investments they wore in.

(2) As a possible building site for a new Church — next to our present modern Church School and Parish House — and in our same Home Mission area — should the Congregation, in four or five years, determine that it would like to remain in this general location.

We sincerely hope the Congregation will agree with our conclusions and actions:

(1) That we should await the completion of the new bridge and actually experience the possible noise and inconvenience before we vote either to remain where we are or move elsewhere.

(2) That the Congregation be protected to the extent of having available sufficient ground on which to build in case it decides to remain in this general location.

(3) To have a part of our Building Funds invested in real property which can be used as the site for a new Church auditorium or sold.

Hoping that any occasional inconveniences created by the bridge construction will not diminish your loyalty to the entire program of our beloved Church, we are

Faithfully yours,