Covenant Presbyterian Church at the corner of Madison Avenue and Olive Street is an impressive example of Gothic architecture, complete with flying buttresses. In 1903, W.W. Scranton - son of Joseph H. Scranton - laid the cornerstone of the church, built by Stipp Construction. Each block of the limestone walls was hand-carved on site by craftsman Frank Carlucci. An impressive nineteen stained glass windows were installed over the duration of 65 years, each telling a different biblical tale. Some of the original windows, created and installed by Louis Comfort Tiffany in 1910, are still in place today. Over the years, several other glass artisans and painters were employed to create additional stained glass works of art that would become significant components of the building. These windows depict events such as The Annunciation, The Nativity, and The Last Supper. The church layout is based on a Gothic cathedral floor plan called a Latin Cross. The congregation is seated on the nave – Latin for ship. The two arms of the cross, called transepts, are for seating, as well. The choir, pulpit and lectern are situated at the head of the cross, or chancel. The roof is comprised of wooden beams, flying buttresses, and Tudor Arches – all of which hold English influences and were created without power tools. The manse, located behind the church on Olive Street, was constructed in 1898, and an addition along Madison Avenue was later erected. The chapel of Covenant Presbyterian Church, located beneath the main sanctuary, was endowed by the Schautz family in 1948.
Covenant Presbyterian Church's origins can be traced to the First Presbyterian Church, founded on North Washington Avenue in 1848. In 1903, the congregation relocated to the corner of Madison Avenue and Olive Street, where it built a new structure. In 1926, the congregation of First Presbyterian Church merged with Second Presbyterian Church and became Westminster Presbyterian Church. For years, Westminster reigned as one of the most important Presbyterian churches of not only the Hill Section, but also the entire Scranton area. Even during the Great Depression and war years, services at Westminster were always well-attended by Hill Section residents. Subsequently, it merged with the congregation of Green Ridge Presbyterian Church and adopted its present name.
The most recent renovations to Covenant Presbyterian Church took place in 2012. Volunteers and professionals worked to replace the marble floors, painted the walls, and upgraded the audio-visual and lighting systems. Some components, such as the reredos, or altarpiece, were constructed completely from scratch by local artisans and installed. Over 3,000 pipes were taken from the organ chamber and shipped to the Patrick J. Murphy Organ Company. There, each pipe was re-voiced and re-leathered. New pipes were installed to allow for a richer sound with a wider dynamic range, and a new console was custom built incorporating modern digital elements.
Today, the church is in impeccable condition and alive with activity. The basement level serves as offices for Safety Net and Breadbasket of NEPA. Additionally, there is a space designated for meetings, a sitting area, a large commercial kitchen, a library and an auditorium/gymnasium. Certain rooms on the sanctuary level are utilized as a day care center during the week, the Infant Care Program at Covenant Presbyterian Church, which has been catering to the needs of families and children since 2001. Church offices are now located in the manse, renamed the Covenant House, at 816 Olive Street.
Information from Images of America: Scranton's Hill Section by Jack Shean, as well as from Happenings Magazine.