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1889 Johnstown Flood commemorated

Guided tours will be available at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 335 Locust St., Johnstown, will host a special Community Common Prayer Service commemorating the 130th anniversary of the 1889 Johnstown Flood and the role that St. Mark’s played during and in the aftermath of the flood.

The service will be held at 6:30 p.m. Sunday and will include a memorial to Father Alonzo Potter Diller, Rector of St. Mark’s, his wife Mrs. Marion Diller and their children, all of whom perished at St. Mark’s, and all 2,209 victims of the 1889 flood.

It also will be a service of healing prayer for the community, the nation and the world.

A brief written history of St. Mark’s will be provided to those who attend the service.

In the aftermath of the 1889 flood and despite considerable damage to the 1874 church building and rectory, the death of its rector, and over half of its communicants, St. Mark’s congregation continued meeting in the “Ark,” a temporary small wooden structure furnished by the American Red Cross. The response to the 1889 Johnstown Flood marked the first time the Red Cross was mobilized. The head of the organization, Clara Barton, decided to build “Red Cross Hotels” to house the homeless of Johnstown and surrounding areas.

Bishop Cortlandt Whitehead of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh gave the St. Mark’s site to the American Red Cross for use in the Johnstown recovery efforts. The first “Red Cross Hotel” was built on the St. Mark’s site.

Later, the site of St. Mark’s was returned to the Diocese and the present day church was built and consecrated on May 31, 1891, the second anniversary of the 1889 flood.

During the 1936 and 1977 Johnstown floods, St. Mark’s sustained property damage but no communicants were lost.

The present day church contains two architectural features original to the 1874 church and many appointments dating back to 1891 that are memorials to the 1889 flood victims.

Guided tours of St. Mark’s will be available following the Sunday service.

All are welcome to attend the service.

For more information, contact The Rev. Nancy L. Threadgill at 535-6797 or revnancy-stmarks @atlanticbbn.net.

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