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First Presbyterian Church of East Brady FAQs (frequently-asked questions)

Category: Main -> What's the history of this building?

Question

Answer

Has this building always been the home of the FPC East Brady?

No, this is the third building to house the congregation. They began in the old Opera House on Broad Street in 1875. Six years later, the building burned, and the only thing rescued from the flames was the pulpit (which is still in use today.) The congregation then raised a steepled clapboard church father down Broad Street. It was damaged by high winds in 1926 and deemed unfit for use. At that time, Newton and Nora Graham were planning to leave town permanently for Detroit, and offered their Georgian-style mansion as a new home for the congregation. Mr Graham engaged the original architect, Henry Hornbostel, to draft the necessary changes to the building.

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Tell us more about the Grahams.

Newton Graham was an entrepreneur. His business acumen led him to ventures in lumber, coal, oil and other natural resources in Pennsylvania's boom days. He was instrumental in the formation of Rex-Hide Industries, the primary rubber flap producer in the US for many years.

He left East Brady for a brilliant career in Detroit, where his business skills became legendary.

His first wife died shortly after their move to Detroit. When he remarried, the second Mrs Graham proved to be as philanthropic as her predecessor. After Mr Graham's death, she remarried, but never forgot the little congregation in East Brady. She was a major donor to the choir and the flower fund, and at her death established the Helen Graham Kay Foundation which benefits many charitable organizations, including the FPC, EB.

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What About the Graham Mansion?

The Grahams built this lovely Georgian-style home on the banks of the Allegheny as their primary residence. It was built in 1902. The architect was Henry Hornbostel, who was known for designing many buildings in New York City and Pittsburgh, including many of the buildings of the Carnegie-Mellon University campus.
Local materials were used as much as possible. The yellow bricks were made at the Brady's Bend Brickworks, the quatersawn oak woodwork is native, as are the cherry and walnut parquetry inlays in the hardwood floors. The foundation stone and the slate on the porches are native as well.

The house had 4 floors, with the kitchen in the basement (along with a game room that included a billiards table) and public rooms on the first floor. A dining room, parlor, study and breakfast room all accessed the main lobby/foyer, which the family used as a sitting room.

On the second floor were bedrooms, with a balcony overlooking the river outside the master bedroom. On the third floor were smaller bedrooms and an Assembly or Ball room.

When the house was converted to a church, another staicase, a music room, a pulpit area and choir/organ loft were added. The floor of the Assembly Room and the ceilings of two bedrooms were removed to form the sanctuary, along with all the interior walls on that floor.

The third floor became a balcony and storage area.

The orginal leaded glass windows are still on the first floor, along with almost all of the original woodwork and some of the orginal handpainted wall coverings.

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Has the river ever flooded the church?

No - the worst flooding in recorded history brought water up to the railroad tracks, which were on the current parking lot.

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There's a library in your church?

Yes - When Mr Graham gave the church a new home, he also established the East Brady Public Library, to be housed in the same building in an addition to the breakfast room area. He left most of his extensive personal library to start the establishment, as well as funds to cover expenses and carry on the work of the Library Board. The library is open one day a week (Thursday 3:00 -7:00 PM). Their telephone number is 724-526-5985. The library has fiction, nonfiction, books on tape and computers with high-speed internet access for use by the public.

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