St Paul Lutheran Church
(MAP) 850 Hill Church Rd., Hershey, PA
*** 2013 Preservation Award Winner ***
As the first Lutheran community in Dauphin County, the people of St. Paul Lutheran Church have done an exemplary job of preserving the historical essence of the grounds where their congregation makes its home.
In 1752 a small group of German homesteaders established a Lutheran Congregation in the area of Sand Hill two miles south of Hummelstown. In 1756 their first church was built. It was chartered as the Hill Lutheran Church in Derry Township, Dauphin County in 1817. Today, it is officially known as St. Paul Lutheran Church.
The first church was built in 1 756 on the northeast side of the cemetery. The church was a one-story log structure with no wooden floor and no heating facilities. The seats were logs, split down the middle. Shortly after the first church was finished, a second story was added as a defense against the Indians. The settlers brought guns to church for protection from the Indians and placed them in racks under the benches during worship.
A sexton house built around 1752 has been preserved and a new one built in 1886 is still in use. The church was enlarged, the outside of the building covered with weatherboard, and the inside plastered.
In 1875, a new church was built of brownstone quarried nearby, and that church is still in use today. The 1950s included an excavation under the church to create a full basement for Sunday School Classes. While a new church was completed in 1999, the building constructed in 1875 is still in use for many parish activities.
The cemetery across the street (torn the church is one of the oldest cemeteries in the township that is still in use.