In the early 1800's there was no Episcopal Church between Philadelphia
and Old St. David's Church in Radnor. The first Episcopal Church in
Lower Merion was organized on Sunday, August 3, 1851 in Temperance
Hall, above the 8 mile marker on Lancaster Pike. After the service a
meeting was held to organize a parish. A resolution passed to erect a
church edifice, and on October 30th the vestry resolved to purchase a
parcel of land on the corner of Lancaster Pike and Buck Lane, to erect
a church to not cost more than $2,000. November 22, 1851 the vestry
resolved, at the request of many friends, to change the name from St.
Luke's – its original intended name – to Church of the Redeemer.
On November 21, 1851 the corner stone of the Church was laid by the
Bishop of Pennsylvania. Soon a Chapel was founded with Sunday School
and evening services. After paying all their debts on that first
location, the vestry voted on September 10, 1860 to buy the property at
the corners of Fishers Road, Old Gulph Road and Pennswood Road, where
the Church now stands. The property remained vacant from 1861 until
1872 when the rectory was built, in what was described as a forest of
trees. A Church Extension Society was formed in 1873 for the purpose of
building a new Church.
During 1879-81 a new church, designed by Charles M. Burns, Jr., was
built at Pennswood and New Gulph Roads in Bryn Mawr to serve the many
prosperous parishioners. On November 8, 1879 the corner stone was laid
by the Bishop of Nebraska and on Easter Sunday 1881 the first services
were held in the Church. The parish house was built in 1885 and the
choir room was added to the Church in 1891.
Church of the Redeemer underwent several early improvements and
expansions. Burns designed the new choir room and various other
alterations and additions through 1905. In 1910, the west end of the
church was enlarged by two bays and included a narthex, or vestibule.
This addition, by the Philadelphia architectural firm of Evans, Warner
and Bigger was the first of many alterations they would oversee. In
2009 the church completed a major renovation, including reconfiguration
of the chancel; a new addition for accessible lavatories; and the
restoration of the stenciled wood ceiling, terra cotta tile, wood
floors, the slate roof, interior and exterior masonry walls, and other