Tuesday, November 29, 2016

End of Bible House

Probably from the Pittsburgh Press in 1963 and probably written by George Swetnam, this is the story about the end of the Bible House building.

With grateful thanks to S P Olsen who sent it in.


Andrew Martin said...

"part of the history of one of the strangest episodes in Pittsburgh's past"? - a bit much, don't you think?

Pittsburgh should be happy if they've never had anything stranger than Jehovah's Witnesses!

Also, the 1963 Around-the-World Conventions were "held by airplane"?

What kind of hack was this guy?

Anonymous said...

On the same spot stands an a large square, functional brick dwelling with non of the charm of the original frontage of the original "Bible House" ~~

Anonymous said...

I think I have read that the old Bible house was sold to the Dawn Bible Students (a splinter group of Russellists that has formed around 1929)
A reunion of many Bible Students who rejected the Society held in that old "Bethel" so as they remember Br.Russell
Brother Rutherford and the majority of Bible Students moved forward much more by expanding the organization

jerome said...

The Bible House was not sold to the Dawn, although there is a connection. The chapel in 1929 belonged to a fraternal society The Order of Independent Americans, and was used by many groups. It was hired for a reunion convention of Bible Students in 1929, which continued on an annual basis for some years. From that reunion convention eventually came other splinter groups, like the Dawn, although they were based in Brooklyn.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for the information- I thought that the old bible House belonged to the Dawnists because I saw a picture in a Dawn magazine saying that the first reunion of the "independent" Bible Students was held there. So, if Im getting the information right ,the Chapel was sold to someone else (The Order of Independent Americans) and the Dawnists later used it by hiring it so they can have their convention
Is this right?
Thank you again!

jerome said...

The first reunion convention happened in 1929 and was dated to coincide with anniversary memorial services at CTR’s grave. The convention report produced by Dr Leslie Jones shows that it had been advertised through the P.B.I. publication The Herald and was designed to bring together various groups that had separated from the Watchtower Society. (For a list of some of these different groups see the full resolution presented by J F Rutherford for the new name Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1931 - JFR names some of them.) The 1929 convention report also states that they had used the chapel of The Order of Independent Americans. A check in newspaper archives shows that this was used by other groups as well for advertised activities, so like a standard Masonic Hall it could be hired out.

The 1929 brought these people together, but it could be argued that, rather than bringing about unity amongst various Bible Student groups, it resulted in the formation of yet one more group. That was the Dawn, whose magazine started in 1932. They would be more focused on proselytising than some of the earlier breakaway groups. Later reunion conventions would be mentioned in their publication.

It must be remembered that in 1928 The Harp of God was revised and removed direct reference to CTR. In the late 1920s the Society ceased publishing new editions of CTR’s Studies, although they remained on their inventory while stocks lasted. Key beliefs from the CTR era like the Great Pyramid would be changed, followed by removing any focus on natural Israel in the early 1930s. Those who wanted to stay with all of CTR’s theology would no longer find a home in the movement that became Jehovah’s Witnesses.

jerome said...

I have been asked who bought the Bible House initially before the chapel became that of the Order of Independent Americans. I have no documentation, but a source in Pittsburgh tells me that there was a public sale in 1908, but that was probably just for the contents. Then it was transferred by the WTBTS to an Arnold DeBrier for one dollar in 1912. This name crops up with property development in this era a couple of times in newspapers of the time, and the one dollar may have been part of a bigger deal involving other properties. I don't have the time or inclination to follow this further, but if I were going to, I would examine trade directories from 1909 onward to see who occupied the property, and check the plat maps in record offices that might show the owners. Certainly by the time the WT Society transferred back to Pittsburgh in the troubles of 1918 they had to hire the Martin's building on the opposite corner to CTR's old Federal Street shop.