Historic Preservation and Restoration
Currently, Gloria Dei is restoring our historic graveyard. Help is always needed!
The almost total restoration of Gloria Dei 'Old Swedes' Church (originally dedicated on July 2, 1700) was completed in 1999, in time for the 300th anniversary of the church building. Externally, the only surfaces not treated were the brick faces, from repointing of the lowliest brick in the church wall to regilding the heights of the steeple spire. The interior renovation was even more complete; the brick faces were treated, painted surfaces were restored to original colonial colors, the stained glass window was cleaned and repaired and the replicas of the Kalmar Nyckel and the Fogel Gryp were repaired and rebuilt. The result of all this work is breathtaking.
Also "breathtaking" was the bill. The work was underwritten by the congregation as well as the William Penn Foundation and various Gloria Dei Endowment Funds. Several members of the Swedish Colonial Society also contributed to the restoration and an especially generous donation was received from Mrs. George C. McFarland.
The Gloria Dei Churchyard has been in continuous use since the early 1700's and is one of the oldest burial grounds in Philadelphia. Its "tenants" include sea captains, scientists, revolutionary and civil war soldiers, artists and ministers.
Among them is the ornithologist Alexander Wilson, who emigrated to America from Scotland and became an authority on birds of the eastern region (preceeding Audubon. The "Father of American Swimming", James H. Sterrett is also buried in the church yard. The remains of eight Revolutionary War Officers and their families are interred at Gloria Dei, including James Peale, brother to Charles Wilson Peale and a skilled artist in his own right, and Brigadier General William Irvine who served as a United States Congressman after the war.
Those who care about this historic and important building wish to thank all who contributed or will in the future contribute to this effort. We also invite any interested person or group to come and enjoy our beautiful church with us.
© 2016 Old-Swedes