Paul Baker Touart
Rock United Presbyterian Church
192, Roch Church Road, Elkton, Cecil County
Rock Presbyterian Church is a rectangular building of uncoursed rubble stone construction, three bays wide by three deep, with a steeply pitched slate-clad gable roof. The building was originally constructed in 1761; its present appearance, reflecting Victorian Gothic influence, is the result of renovations carried out in 1872 and 1900. The entrance is centered in the south gable facade and consists of double doors in an arched opening. Windows of 1/1 sash in arched openings occupy each of the flanking bays. A shed-roofed porch with square posts spans the facade. Above the entrance, a circular stained glass rose window was inserted in 1872 or 1900. In the peak of the gable, a shuttered lancet window is surmounted by a datestone reading "A Presbyterian Church 1761." The side elevations hold tall 7/6 lancet windows of colored and etched glass with Gothic tracery in the upper sash in each bay. A small rectangular addition holding a recessed pulpit was made to the north end of the church in 1900. On the interior, a vestibule leads into the sanctuary, which has a raised gallery at the rear. The interior features rich Gothic detailing, including elaborately carved walnut trusswork, a walnut arch defining the pulpit recess, and a gallery rail with a lancet-arch motif; these elements date from the 1900 renovation, as do the pressed-metal ceiling and chestnut wainscoting. The pews of grained ash with walnut trim were installed in 1872. West of the church is a stone Session House; this 1 1/2-story, gable-roofed building was originally constructed in 1762. It stands three bays wide by one bay deep, with a gabled stone vestibule projecting from the right-hand bay of its principal facade. The building retains considerable integrity despite a small frame addition to one end and the sheathing of the upper half-story in fishscale shingles. Also on the property is a modern white stucco Church House constructed in 1953, which does not contribute to the significance of the resource.
Rock Presbyterian Church is significant for its association with early Scotch-Irish immigration into northeastern Maryland, and with the concomitant growth of the Presbyterian religion into the region. The congregation it serves was organized in 1720, and utilized first a log structure, and later a frame building to hold their services. The present stone building, the third to serve the congregation, was constructed in 1761 and reflects the efforts of a mature, established community. The church derives additional significance from its architecture; in continuous use since its construction, the building has undergone a series of renovations in response to the changing needs and tastes of the congregation. Throughout these renovations, its basic form has been preserved, so that it is still able to evoke a sense of its historic association with early Presbyterianism, while reflecting the continuing vitality of an active congregation. In its present form, the church is unique in northern Cecil County in presenting an example of a carefully conceived and successfully executed Victorian Gothic remodeling of a mid-18th century vernacular church building. The Gothic detailing of the interior, including elaborately carved walnut trusses and gallery rail, is especially noteworthy.