United Church of Christ 571 Penllyn Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422 (215) 646-6132
A BRIEF HISTORY OF BOEHM'S CHURCH
Boehm's Church, founded in 1740, was originally a Dutch Reformed congregation and later came under the German Reformed Synod of Philadelphia.
In 1740, the church's founder, the Reverend John Philip Boehm, lived on his 200-acre farm in Whitpain Township, between what is now Cathcart Road and School House Lane, just northeast of Skippack Pike. One of his sons farmed this land while Boehm rode circuit and attended to the affairs of various churches which he had founded. As he approached the age of 60, the hardships of long rides on horseback in all kinds of weather began to catch up with him, and he was forced to spend more time closer to home. His neighbors asked him to hold services for them whenever he was at home on Sunday, and he complied, founding this congregation in 1740.
Eventually, this little congregation grew to the point that a building was necessary. Where Blue Bell Pike meets Plymouth Road, a one acre plot was purchased from John Lewis. The deed, still in the possession of Boehm's Church, is dated February 8, 1747. A small stone church building was erected by the congregation.
The original church building is described as follows: "The building was one story high, built of stone and mud for mortar, with remarkably heavy walls and a very long, steep roof. The church stood with gable-end facing southwest. There as a large double door, opening with a very heavy handle and thumb latch. "
During the battle of Germantown, Boehm's Reformed Church was used as a hospital for Revolutionary War soldiers. The soldiers who died were buried in the graveyard next to the church. The Daughters of the American Revolution, Valley Forge Chapter, erected a commemorative marker on the front of the church to honor the fallen soldiers.
From its humble beginnings, the Boehm's Reformed Church continued to grow. The original church building was refurbished inside to repair the damage done by soldiers of the Revolutionary War when they used it as a hospital. In 1818, it was decided that a larger building was necessary to accommodate the growing congregation. A new building was erected, in part, on the foundations of the old. In 1834, nine additional acres were added to the original one-acre site, In 1870, extensive renovations were made, including the addition of an eighty-foot high spire with bell (the present church bell).
Over the years, modifications and additions have been made including central steam heat in 1891 and electricity in 1913. The sexton's house was converted into a Parish House in 1963, with a Fellowship Hall added in 1971.
Click the title page below to read Dr. Hinke's biography of Rev. Boehm.