MSBA Church

The history of Mary S. Brown Memorial-Ames United Methodist Church is related to but not the same as the history of Turner Cemetery. The church, together with the parsonage, share the land but have a somewhat different cast of characters. Here is a brief history of the church.

1790-1800–John and Susanna Turner and their neighbors formed the Turner Society and met in the Turners’ home near Frank and Loretta streets in Greenfield.

1812– First efforts were made to build a church.

1818–The Turner Society was given the name “The Country Class” by the Methodist Church in Pittsburgh.

1841–The congregation became part of Methodism’s East Liberty Circuit.

1842–Peter Dravo built the Squirrel Hill Methodist Church on Salt Works Road (now Saline Street) where the minister’s house now stands.  It was the first brick church in Squirrel Hill.

1868–Mary S. Brown died at age 54.

1880–The brick church was replaced by a larger frame one, which was called Brown’s Chapel.

1888–The church closed after a period of disagreements and diminishing attendance.

1899–The abandoned church was taken over by the Baptists, but it was in such bad condition it had to be torn down. Turner Cemetery was neglected and became overgrown with weeds and shrubs.

1901–Captain Sam Brown began to plan the Palace of Memory to honor his mother.  Meanwhile, the Methodists began to meet in Gillespie’s carpenter shop.

1904– Captain Sam Brown built a temporary frame church until the new stone church could be built.

1908–The cornerstone of the new church was laid.

1909–The new church was dedicated.  That same year, 60 members withdrew and built their own church at the corner of Beechwood Boulevard and Lilac Street, forming the Squirrel Hill Methodist Protestant Church.  That church building is also still standing.

1941–Brown’s Chapel and the Squirrel Hill Methodist Protestant Church merged, using the Mary S. Brown Memorial building and selling the other church.

1985–The Ames United Methodist Church of Hazelwood merged with Mary S. Brown Memorial Chapel to form the Mary S. Brown Memorial-Ames United Methodist Church.

6 Responses to MSBA Church

  1. Kelli Kincaid says:

    I am so glad to see the church and cemetery are still there and there is active information about them here. My husband Scott and I were members when we attended the University of Pittsburgh when we were newly weds. We still have fond memories, and the love and support of this congregation was out first step at being active in a church as young adults. We are still members of a UMC, and have brought up our kids in the church. Thank you!

    • admin says:

      I’m so glad you found our website! Please visit the church anytime. Services are at 10:30 on Sundays. The congregation is now so small we meet in the Fellowship Hall on the ground floor, but our spirit is still strong. Several of us are still actively studying the graveyard and the people buried there. Feel free to bring your kids to walk in the graveyard and look at the stones. We ask only that no rubbings are done on the stones because they are so old and fragile.

  2. Judy Traveny says:

    I just finished reading “Right Here in Squirrel Hill” by Hodge Mellvain Eagleson.

    What a wonderful collection of stories based on actual events of the founding and building of MSBA and the cemetery.

    I’m just sorry this book is out of print. We only live a few doors away and I would love to get a couple of copies for relatives who have moved away so that they could share the tails with their children and grandchildren.

    • admin says:

      What a coincidence! I haven’t had time to check the website for comments for quite a while, but this morning I was thinking that I would start the wheels in motion to get “Right Here in Squirrel Hill” reprinted under the auspices of Mary S. Brown-Ames Church, and I read the comment you sent! I agree that this book cannot be forgotten! Getting the book reprinted will be my next project, beginning today. Meanwhile, I edited and partially wrote the book, “Squirrel Hill, the Story of a Neighborhood” for The History Press along with other members of the Squirrel Hill Historical Society. The chapters I wrote deal with Squirrel Hill in the early days of the Girtys, Turners and Browns. It will be published sometime in the spring and will be available in bookstores and online.

  3. Pat Schmeltz says:

    Edgar Reichenbach was grandson of John and Sarah schmeltz.

  4. Pat Schmeltz says:

    The stories Edgar related were from his grandfather.

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