On this date, December 16, 1888, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, on the triangle of Marion Ave. and Park Ave. West, was dedicated. The first sermon was delivered by Dr. S. A. Ort of Springfield. There were many differences of opinion that resulted in the separation of the St. Luke’s congregation from The First Lutheran Church, which has set at the corner of Park Ave. West and Mulberry since 1894. These included opinions on liturgy, form of worship service, finances and the location and type of new church buildings. These differences caused M. D. Harter, local industrialist and politician, and others to begin separation from the church on January 2, 1886, after unsuccessful attempts at compromises. A final decision to withdraw from the church was made on April 16, 1886, and on July 2, 1886 St. Luke’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Mansfield was organized.
The first services were held in the Philharmonic Hall, above 18 1/2 South Main St. until the building of the church. Rev. Daniel W. Smith, D. D. became the first pastor on October 14, 1886 with a yearly salary of $1,000. In February of 1887 William Gibbons Preston, of Boston, was selected as architect for the new church. Preston’s major works in Boston include the Museum of Natural History (1863), the Rogers Building at M.I.T. (1867) and the Vendome Hotel (1872). In Ohio he also designed the Charles M. Russell mansion in Massillon.
The land where the church sits was donated by M. D. Harter on October 16, 1886 under the stipulation that if the property is ever used for any other purpose than Lutheran Church services the land would revert to the Tressler Orphan’s Home in Lowyville, Perry County, PA. The city agreed and the church was granted a lifetime lease on the triangle in front, which was dedicated as a park where nothing could be erected except a fountain.