The story of our parish is part of the story of Mansfield. Grace Church began on October 12, 1846 by signing of the Articles of Association and the formation of the first vestry – the same year that the railroads arrived to town.
The first altar, which now occupies the Baptistery, was handmade by the men of the congregation, and traveled from home to home before a church building was constructed.
Our first building sat on Third Street, where the Richland County Public Library is now. This church contained an organ purchased with funds from handicrafts made by the church women. The first rectors received about $150 to $200 per year, and usually did not stay for long.
By the century’s end, our parish looked to build a new home. The parish offered its property for $10,000 to the trustees of the planned Carnegie Library and to build in a new location, with a contingency to build on its current site.
Before the finalization of the move, parishioner, Senator, and Secretary of State John Sherman died. His funeral on October 25,1900 is a major event in Mansfield history. Mourners included President William McKinley.
The new church was designed by local architect Vernon Redding. Plans called for a building designed in traditional Gothic style, and with seating for 432 with an additional 60 to 70 in an adjacent chapel.
Ground was broken for the church on June 30, 1905, and a cornerstone was laid in early September of that year. By February 1906, the congregation began to meet in the basement room of the building. On November 17, 1907, Grace Episcopal Church was dedicated with a service presided over by The Right Reverend W.A. Leonard, Bishop of Ohio. In his sermon, Bishop Leonard used a test from the second chapter of Haggai:
“I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.”
The current church building was constructed between 1905 and 1914, and cost $40,000, considerably over the predicted sum of $25,000. It was constructed of Sandusky limestone, trimmed with Bedford stone. Newspaper accounts noted that that interior was different than other Mansfield churches, particularly in the massive wood beams in the ceiling and the “shape of the furniture.” The brass communion rail was a gift of Charles Kelley King. Many of the stained-glass windows were crafted in Munich, Germany and delayed in transit due to World War I.