The church which stands at S. Third and Chestnut Streets is the oldest standing church building in Harrisburg, erected in 1822. It however represents the second building on this lot granted by John Harris, Jr. for religious purposed when the Borough of Harrisburg was laid out in 1785. The first church was a log-constructed meetinghouse erected in 1787 on the rear portion of the property at the corner of S. Third Street and Cherry Alley (now vacated) and was shared by two congregations, those of the Evangelical Lutheran and German Reformed Church. The two worshiped together until 1814 when the Lutherans decided to go their separate way by purchasing land on S. Broad Street upon which they erected the original Zion Lutheran Church. The German Reformed group continued to use and improve the log meetinghouse which was weather-boarded on the exterior by 1804. In 1818, the congregation became formalized as "The German Reformed Salem Church of Harrisburg" and in 1821 ground was broken on the front portion of the lot facing Chestnut Street for the present building. Upon the dedication of the building on June 21, 1822, the church's bell, brought from London, England, was installed in the tower cupola. In July, 1863, portions of the church property were used as a hospital for Confederate prisoners injured in the Battle of Gettysburg.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the church building, which later became the Salem United Church of Christ, escaped demolition of the surrounding urban renewal activities of the 1960s. It beautifully survives as an important Harrisburg landmark.
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