Saturday, November 26, 2016

Bible House - 1889-1908

The building frontage at 610 Arch Street was 13 meters wide, and the depth of the building was 18 meters. In the 1920s the frontage was completely redesigned, and then the original building was swept away in redevelopment around the early 1960s.

The original building was a double store building, with a basement and then three floors above the stores. The basement was used for general shipping purposes, and then the first floor (what Brits would call the ground floor) was the two stores. The one on the left of the picture was used for folding and mailing Towers, books, Bibles, and mottoes etc. The store on the right was the show room. Here Bibles and other supplies were displayed in cases so that the public could come in off the street and purchase. Also in this store on the right, visitors to the Bible House were received. CTR's secretary usually occupied a desk near the window in the front of this store, while CTR had a private office back at about the middle of the store, where he would come each afternoon to sign letters, etc. However, his main office or study was up on the fourth floor, off the living room.

The second floor was generally not used for Bible Student purposes directly and was rented out for revenue.

The third floor was the Chapel, a large room that could hold between three and four hundred people. There was a large motto at the back of the pulpit reading “One is Your Master Even Christ.” All the other panels on the walls contained painted mottos in color. Most photographs of CTR preaching in “the chapel” are actually later ones taken at the Brooklyn Tabernacle where they moved in early 1909, but this was closely modelled on the Bible House.

The fourth and top floor had a number of rooms. Coming off the stairs you would enter the living room where the Bible House Family had their daily morning worship as well as other gatherings. Off the living room was the dining room with a long table to accommodate the family and visitors. Also on this top floor was CTR’s private study and the living quarters for those who were resident.

Some floors were connected through speaking tubes.

Note: the main source for most of the above is Dr Leslie Jones, who produced the convention reports from 1904-1916, writing in 1929.


Leslie Jones noted that the frontage had been completed redesigned when he visited in 1929. This is how the building looked in 1937.


Andrew Martin said...

Excellent post, Jerome! Thanks you for posting this - I never realized that there were three separate addresses (610, 612, 6140 involved).

I may have a black-and-white photo taken many years later, with the "Bible House" sign on the side still showing through. I'll start digging.

Semer said...

Thank! Very interesting. Are there any pictures of the inside?

jerome said...

In answer to Semer, there are pictures of the inside including one of CTR in his study, and one of a long meal table. I can't copy these at present because they are framed on my study wall. An internet search might locate them and others, although one has to be careful not to confuse them with those taken in Brooklyn, as found in the 1909 convention report.

ramblinwaymore said...

Thanks again Jerome for your hard work and diligent research! If anyone hasn't had time to look at the Convention Reports, it is highly encouraged. Several small details are revealed, such as the Cross and Crown emblems which were on display outside, the window to Russell's personal study was behind the fire escape, and Albert Burgess was in charge of the store below.

Andrew Martin said...

Andrew, I just now found my photo of the later-day Arch Street building - it was in an envelope lying on my desk (didn't need to dig very deep, after all)! I will get with you later this week about how to post it, as it is a slightly different view from the one you have from 1937.

S.P.Olsen said...

Can you plot into a map of Allegheny today where the Bible House was? I think it is part of a park today, behind Carnegie Hall (called something else today), but more accurate? The building was demolished about 1966 - I have a newspaper article somewhere in my archive.

jerome said...

For S P Olson - I have posted a map of Allegheny today that someone sent me in response to your question. If you are able to find the newspaper article it would possibly make a good blog post. You can send an attachment to either Rachael or myself.