Founded in 1851 by the Reverend Henry Brown, then rector of Old St. David’s in Radnor, the parish that was to become the Church of the Redeemer spent its first thirty years in a church building located at the corner of Lancaster Avenue and Buck Lane. Neither Mr. Brown nor his successor remained long, but with the appointment of the Rev. Edward Lycett in the fall of 1856, the parish began an era of extensive development that continued during his twenty-two year tenure.
In 1860, with foresight and good judgment, the vestry purchased the ground on which the church now stands, "containing 9 ¼ acres at $150 an acre." The present site was unoccupied from 1861 to 1872 when the Rectory was built at a cost of $12,700 and located in what was described as "a forest of trees." In 1871, a committee of the vestry reported on "a detailed plan for laying out the grounds for a cemetery including the site for a new church." Funds were raised, the building was designed in the Gothic Revival style by noted church architect Charles M. Burns, and on Easter Sunday, 1881, the first services were held in the new church.
Additions followed: the Parish House, also designed by Burns, went up in 1885; a choir room was added to the church in 1891 and the next year even brought steam heat! In 1912, two bays were added to the nave, increasing the seating capacity in the church by a third. The last major addition was the beautiful chapel, built in 1914. Throughout the church and chapel, memorial windows, created by some of the renowned artists in stained glass, were installed as memorials—most of them dating from the last few years of the nineteenth century and the first two decades of the twentieth. In 1958 the Parish House nearly doubled in size with the addition of classrooms and office space. An extensive renovation and restoration to the church was completed in 2009.
Currently, The Redeemer sits on eleven acres of land that includes the churchyard and memorial garden. The present rector is the 15th to serve in this capacity, and through the 130 years of its history, the parish has supported many assisting and associate clergy who have offered distinguished service to the Church here and elsewhere. Throughout these years, the parish has been blessed and sustained by the dedicated service of its members on church committees, in outreach and pastoral care ministries, in the ministries of Christian formation and music, and in the many ministries that facilitate and enhance worship. The Church of the Redeemer contributes to and actively participates in the life of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.
You can view "A Brief History of the Parish" 1851-1951 by Canon Ernest C. Earp, written for the Hundreth Anniversary of the Parish in 1951.