With its roots dating to 1794 and having evolved from the earlier Paxton Presbyterian Church east of the city in what would become Paxtang, the Presbyterian Church of Harrisburg originally met in rooms of the old jail, on Walnut Street, and in the first Courthouse, on Market Street. The congregation's first church building was erected in 1809 on the northeast corner of S. Second Street and Cherry Alley just a block to the south of the present building. Rebuilt in 1842, the Church continued to serve the congregation until it was destroyed by fire in 1858. The fire resulted in a portion of the congregation going its separate way through the formation of the Pine Street Presbyterian Church at Third and Pine Streets. The remaining congregation erected this church building, the Market Square Presbyterian Church in 1859. Having the tallest church spire in the city rising to 193 feet, the building is designed in the Romanesque style and along with the State Capitol Building, was the most prominent feature of the city skyline depicted in 19th Century prints and photographs. Its sanctuary, cast all in white is majestic through its simplicity and trueness to its original appearance, and is the site of nationally acclaimed musical performances. The Church has a timeless presence, as it is the oldest building now standing on Market Square.
Market Square Presbyterian Church in the 1870's.
Church spire towers over the original homes and storefronts on the southwestern quadrant of Market Square in this pre-1899 view.