Reforming Faith by Design: Frank Furness’ Architecture and Spiritual Pluralism Among Philadelphia’s Jews and Unitarians

Philadelphia never saw anything like it. The strange structure took shape between 1868 and 1871 on the southeast corner of North Broad and Mount Vernon streets, in the middle of a developing residential neighborhood for a newly rising upper middle class. With it came a rather alien addition to the city’s skyline: a boldly striped onion dome capping an octagonal Moorish-style minaret that flared...
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Mount Gretna’s Spirit Lives On

Mount Gretna in Lebanon County is an enduring gem of a historic village that offers visitors a rare opportunity to experience an unembellished, Victorian-era lifestyle that shuffles on in similar fashion today. Cloistered within a 16-mile slice of forested rocky hills surrounded by a patchwork expanse of farmland between Lancaster and Hershey, Mount Gretna came to life in 1892 as a village (now...
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The Amish by Steven M. Nolt

The Amish: A Concise Introduction by Steven M. Nolt Johns Hopkins University Press, 52 pp., paper $16.95 In this brief but thoughtful book, Nolt leads his readers through the thicket of scholarship on Amish life to provide a concise introduction to America’s most distinctive religious community. He starts at the right place, delineating eight myths about the Amish that his book eventually...
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Ephrata’s Comet Book

  In the late winter of 1744 a bright comet with six tails that spread out like a fan was visible in the sky. It was so brilliant at its perihelion – its point closest to the sun – that it could be seen even in the daytime. Known as the Great Comet of 1744, the astronomical object mystified the world and led to speculation about its meaning in both scientific and religious...
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Changing Friends – Constant Friends

What is a Quaker? Who is a Quaker? Our mind’s eye first brings forth a picture of the plain Friend who accompanied William Penn. The image is of a black and white silhouette cut-out because Friends thought a full picture was too vain. Yet our sense of today’s Quaker may be less focused, even indistinguishable from the general populace – per­haps this is because we seem to...
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Susquehanna County: A Touch of New England, 1869-1927

Susquehanna County, one of several counties formed from territory originally claimed by both Connecticut and Pennsylvania, reflects a blend of New England and Pennsylvania traditions. Although the land would remain part of Pennsylvania, the majority of pioneer settlers to this northern tier region were actually from Connecticut and other New England states. It was not until 1787, however, that...
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Germantown: Gateway to the New World

We went on board the Concord at Gravesend, the 24th, 5th month, and after we lost sight of England, which was in about three weeks time, we were forty-nine days before we saw land in America, and the 1st 8th month, some of us went ashore in Pennsylvania. The blessing of the Lord did attend us, so we had a very comfortable passage, and had our health all the way. With these words James Claypoole...
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Montgomery County: Cultural Microcosm of the Commonwealth

The third most populous county in Pennsylvania, with ap­proximately 480 square miles of rolling hills criss-crossed by rivers, streams and superhighways, Montgom­ery County is a microcosm of the Com­monwealth, a reflection of its cultural development. Pan of Philadelphia County until 1784, Montgomery Coun­ty served as a sanctuary for numerous ethnic and religious groups seeking the freedom...
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Pennsylvania’s Gift: The Decorated Tree

Tall, nearly touching the ceiling, its branches pungently spicing the room, the stately tree awaits its final array­ – twinkling lights, shiny ornaments, sparkling tinsel, as well as a few precious treasures from years gone by. The Christmas tree is Pennsyl­vania’s gift to the nation, and the story of its arrival, the struggle for its acceptance and the development of its decorations...
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Bryn Athyn Cathedral: Where Man May Forget the World

Bryn Athyn Cathedral, tucked well back from Second Street Pike in Montgomery County, is not immediately visible to the passerby. One is intro­duced to the finely chiseled spires, granite towers and sparkling glass in rapid, stop­-frame glimpses through a dense stand of trees. As the full view unfolds, one is at once compelled by the loom­ing one hundred and fifty foot central tower and beckoned...
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