St. Lucie Historical Society, Inc.
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church
In 1891 the only Episcopalians in Ft. Pierce were Judge Andrew James Lewis and his daughter Rosa, John Hetherington, Wallace Tolcher Harbin and Frank M. and Emaline Rachel (Smith) Tyler who operated the Fort Pierce Hotel. These friends held lay reader services in the parlor of the hotel, the Masonic Hall and also the First Baptist Church. At times the Venerable B. F. Brown, Archdeacon of this area, and other clergy conducted the services. When the railroad came in 1894, more and more Episcopalians arrived. Among these was Mary DeBogary a school teacher who had come to Florida with her Russian parents in 1876. She married Edward Clarence Summerlin in 1897. Mary devoted much of her energy toward the development of the Episcopalian mission in Fort Pierce.
Those faithful pioneers who attended the early services succeeded in acquiring a piece of ground, donated by Mr. A. C. Dittmar. Located on the west side of Pine Street, which is now known as North Second Street, between Palmentto Avenue (Ave. A.) and Moore's Creek.. With a little outside assistance and some local donations, Frank Roylance a local builder was able to erect a church building which was completed in 1902. With the consent of the Bishop. Mrs. Tyler named the Church, St. Andrews. As the town grew, new names were added to the congregation, among them the C. T. McCarty, the Tylander, the Saunders and the Paxton families. On March 13, 1902, Bishop Gray and Archdeacon Brown celebrated Holy Communion in the new building. In April of that year the first child baptized was John Alfred Summerlin, the son of Clarence and Mary DeBogary Summerlin.
In March 1905, Bishop William Crane Gray held the Easter services with the following in attendance.
Mr. & Mrs. Harbin
Mr. & Mrs Nesbitt
Frank & Mary Tyler
Others who attended services that week were:
Miss Viola Cook
A permanent rectory was purchased on the river front, east of the old Fort Pierce Hotel. This property included riparian rights. When a group of investors decided to fill in the river front east of and adjacent to the rectory for the New Fort Pierce Hotel, St. Andrews joined them and had land pumped in also. In 1922 the church became a self supporting parish. In 1923 the church building was moved from where it was built to a riverside location on the new fill. A parish house and rectory were added in 1926; in 1933, the church building was enlarged, doubling the seating capacity.
The first vestry or "Bishop's Committee" was composed of W. I. Nesbitt, Senior Warden; W. T. Harbin, Junior Warden; W. E. Tylander, Secretary and Treasurer. When the church first became a mission, the Reverend Campbell Gray, son of the Bishop, had just been ordained, St. Andrews was his first assignment.
Because the church expanded rapidly, the building became too small to accommodate the congregation. and plans were made for the construction of a larger one. Among the many influential parishioners was State Supreme Chief Justice Elwin Thomas, and another Supreme Court Chief Justice Alto Adams. The McCarty family has always been very active. The late Governor Daniel Thomas McCarty, was baptized there, served on the vestry and, after his sudden death in1953, was buried from the quaint, little, old frame building.
Due to the continued growth of the parish, a campaign was begun in April of 1956 for the erection of a new church building and the purchase of additional land. Young Robert Terry, Jr. an architect, drew the plans for the structure and ground was broken September 14, 1958. Construction was commenced at once. The first services were held on Easter Day, March 25, 1959. Some $200,000 was expended, not only on the new church, but on the repair and redecoration on existing buildings.
Old St. Andrews, bereft of memorial organ and stained glass windows, was presented to the Diocese, for use as a mission at Satellite Beach. On July 14, 1959, the frame building, which had served this community for fifty-six years, was placed on a barge and towed up the Indian River. Moved some sixty odd miles to its new location, where it was designated as "Holy Apostles' Episcopal Church."