Odenton's Epiphany Episcopal Has Its Share Of War Stories Veterans Day Program To Tout Historical Role

November 07, 1990|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

The Epiphany Episcopal Church in Odenton still looks much like it did in 1918, when it was built for troops stationed at Fort Meade and heading off to war.

A portrait of Gen. George G. Meade still hangs over the entrance-way fireplace and turn-of-the-century furniture still makes up much of the decor.

But the church's pastor, the Rev. Phebe Coe, is worried that parishioners don't know the purpose of the landmark building.

Coe hopes to change that Sunday, Veterans Day, with a display of World War I artifacts and other memorabilia concerning the church, which was designated Maryland's World War I Chapel.

"We're just starting to collect stuff," she says.

Coe said she wants to establish a museum next to her church, located on Morgan Road in Odenton. She already has started to collect items from the museum at Fort Meade.

"We want to work hand-in-hand with the Fort Meade museum," Coe said. "I think it would be neat to have history classes in on it."

Sunday, Coe will show old photographs of the way the church used to look, including some of the first pastor, the Rev. Tagart "Tag" Steele. She also has an old Army helmet, and has bought a copy of the movie "All Quiet on the Western Front," which she plans to show.

A curator of the Fort Meade Museum, James Speraw, is planning to show up at the church dressed in a World War I uniform.

"We want to stir up our heritage," Coe said. "We want to show people why we are here."

The church got its start in 1917, when Fort Meade expanded, forcing St.

Peter's Episcopal Church to close. Plans were then made to build another church in Odenton, to serve all denominations.

A one-acre parcel of land was purchased for $2,500 through a combined effort of the diocese of Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. Two women, Margaret Buckingham and Isabelle Freeman, each donated $5,500 to help build the church.

Riggen Buckler, a well-known architect from Baltimore, designed the church for free in the Arts and Crafts style, prominent in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The style emphasizes function, proportion and honesty.

The building was constructed in only 60 days.

After the war, the church was given back to St. Peter's, and is now simply called Epiphany Episcopal Church.

For Coe, who has been pastor for four years, the history is fascinating.

The building was part of original downtown Odenton -- next to the train station, the bank and the general store. On Sunday, she hopes to get others involved in her passion and start the groundwork for the museum project.

"We had an important reason for being built," she said.

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