Charity V. Davidson
Town Clock Church
312, Bedford Street, Cumberland, Allegany County
The Town Clock Church is a one-story gable-front brick building on a high stone basement, 3 bays wide by 4 long. A tall clock tower rises from the slate roof at the east gable end of the building, above the principal facade. There are four brick chimneys, three in original positions near the center of the building set just inside the eaves line. One chimney, at the northwest corner, is new. The steeple consists of a four-part brick tower topped with a spire. The base is square with a wood cornice, above which is a clock face on all four sides, pilasters on the corners, and another cornice. The belfry portion has round-arched ventilators on all sides with one pilaster at each corner, making it octagonal, and a dentiled cornice. The spire, sitting on an octagonal base with recessed panels, is covered with slate in alternating rows of rectangular and imbricated shingles. A lightning rod extends from the top of the spire. The building itself is constructed of five- or six-course common bond brick except for the east facade, which is in all-stretcher bond. The basement is constructed of neatly laid blocks of sandstone on the east and random coursed rubble stone elsewhere. The east was faced with sandstone in 1910. At the northeast corner there are quoins in the basement and a granite cornerstone dated "Juni 1, 1848." The north, south, and east facades are divided into bays by brick pilasters with wooden caps. Those at the end of each facade meet and form a right angle at the corners. The wide cornice on the north, south, and east consists of two narrow bands of brick forming a belt course just above the capitals of the pilasters an a wood cornice above. Above the cornice on the east facade is a pediment with slightly projecting pavilion in the center pierced by two narrow round-arched 1/1 windows. Below the cornice is a pair of pilasters set rather close together. Between these is a round stained-glass window and below that the pedimented portico with Ionic columns. The main entrance is composed of double doors, each with one panel, surmounted by a semicircular stained-glass transom with brick arch and marble keystone. Flanking the entrance are stained glass windows composed of four rectangular lights and two quarter-circles above. There is a marble keystone in the brick arch above each window. The north and south elevations have windows identical to the front, without the marble keystones. Basement windows on the north side have rusticated stone arches. The west gable end has a gabled parapet capped with tin. The chancel projects in the center of this facade. A stained-glass, round-arched window is located in this projection. A small hip-roofed addition is built onto the north side of the projection. A one-story brick addition is located to the south. Interior woodwork includes paneling, oak balusters on the winder stairs to the balcony carved in a rounded cross pattern, and architrave trim.
The Town Clock Church was built in 1848 by its German Lutheran congregation. Although no longer used by its original congregation, the church is still historically significant for its relationship to Cumberland's 19th century German population. The building was designed by a German-speaking member of the congregation, one Harry Schmenner, and has remained basically unaltered since its construction. The date on the cornerstone is inscribed in German, as is the name of the church over the main entrance, which reads "Deutfche Evgn Luth Chirche 1848." The church building itself is modest and typical of institutional architecture of the 1840s and 1850s. The clock tower and the building's location on a hill give the church an impressive height resulting in its prominence in the cityscape.