Michael O. Bourne
Old Salem Church and Cemetery
701, Ingleside Avenue, Catonsville, Baltimore County
Old Salem Church and Cemetery stands on the west side of Ingleside Avenue, in Catonsville. The main part of the 1849 church building faces east and is a 3-bay, irregular stone structure approximately 28' wide and 42' long. It has a gable roof, a short boxy steeple, an entrance porch at the front and an apse at the rear. Each side has three lancet windows measuring 3 1/2' x 9', with clear glass set in wooden frames pivoted in the middle to tilt outward at the bottom. The builders used concrete window sills and brick arches set in the stone and mortar walls. Granite quoins were used in the four corners. The gable roof has hex-type asphalt shingles over wood shingles which can be seen at the roof's edge. The fascia board at the edge of the roof, which has no overhang, is an ogee molding painted white. On the south side between the first and second windows, a brick interior chimney protrudes from the roof. It rises to the height of the ridge board of the roof, is guyed by wires, and is topped by a corbeled cap and brick-arch covering On the east facade, the entrance is protected by an 8' x 8' gable-roofed semi-enclosed porch with a brick floor. In the center of each side of the porch is a casement window with a pointed arch, opening inward. Above the porch is a circular window bricked into the stone front, with wood framing and solid-color stained glass. The circle is cut into 8 truncated-pie sections with a square window in the center hinged inward at the top opening. At the east end of the gable roof is a bell tower with a hip roof topped by a short steeple. At the rear of the building, a three-sided apse with vaulted roof has been constructed. Each side measures about 10'. A brick chimney with clay cap protrudes from the roof on the south side of the apse. A pointed-arch window in the center of the west facade contains three pointed-arch wooden window frames with red tinted glass and blue in the top panes. A metal sun shield has been added to cover the upper portion of this window. The interior of the church has a center aisle with two columns of pews. At the east end is a gallery and organ loft supported by two Greek Doric columns with bases that pass through pew seats, and with a stair in the northeast corner. The west end has the altar, pulpit, and sacristy. The pews have plain board ends with a plain board seat and canted board back. The gallery and organ loft has the original organ, which is still hand pumped by a wooden lever on the north side of the case. From early on, the ground to the south of the church was laid out as a cemetery. At the east end of the lot, along the street, is a wrought-iron fence and gates bearing the name "G. W. Lurman".
The Old Salem Church and Cemetery derives significance from its architecture, education, music, and its association with the German Lutherans who settled in this part of the county. The building is an excellent example of a mid-19th century Gothic revival church, designed by Johann Moessmeringer and constructed in 1849. The church is also significant as the site of the first "public" school in Catonsville. The schoolhouse (no longer standing) ceased to be a church school in 1879, and was taken over by the County as Baltimore County Public School No. 12. In the balcony of the church building is a fine example of a direct-tracker playing action pipe organ, built in the mid 19th century. It is cased in wood but the upper sides are open. It is still in operable condition, and is played at the annual fall service held in the building. A lever action pump provides air for its pipes. The German immigrants were one of the first groups of people to come to this country in large numbers in the 1830s and 1840s, profoundly affecting the small seaport of Baltimore and the rural villages of Catonsville to its west. This community along Ingleside Avenue was originally known as Germantown, and the settlers there constructed this church shortly after founding their community.