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Church and Estate

Religion and Wealth in Industrial-Era Philadelphia

By Thomas F. Rzeznik

Publication Year: 2013

In Church and Estate, Thomas Rzeznik examines the lives and religious commitments of the Philadelphia elite during the period of industrial prosperity that extended from the late nineteenth century through the 1920s. It reveals the influence their wealth and status afforded them within their religious communities, while simultaneously tracing how religious beliefs informed their actions and shaped their class identity. In tracing those connections, it shows how religion and wealth shared a fruitful, yet ultimately tenuous, relationship.

Published by: Penn State University Press

Cover Front

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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Frontispiece, Dedication

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pp. 2-7

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

I have received a wealth of support in the course of researching and writing Church and Estate. It gives me great pleasure to recognize the many individuals to whom I owe debts of gratitude. ...

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pp. 1-20

In 1921, the board of the Provident Life and Trust Company of Philadelphia approved a reorganization plan that separated the firm’s life insurance and trust divisions. Following its formal establishment in December 1922, the Provident Mutual Life Insurance Company of Philadelphia orchestrated an extensive advertising campaign to promote the new enterprise. ...

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Chapter 1: “Money Faithfully and Judiciously Expended”

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pp. 21-48

During their visit to Rome in early 1887, Katharine Drexel and her two sisters, Elizabeth and Louise, were privileged to receive a private audience with Pope Leo XIII. On the appointed day, the pontiff graciously welcomed the three young women from Philadelphia, having been informed of their generous financial support for the work of the Catholic Church. ...

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Chapter 2: A Controlling “Interest”

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pp. 49-74

On 4 February 1889, the first service was held at the Church of St.Martinin- the-Fields, an Episcopal parish established on the lower side of Chestnut Hill. Among those seated prominently in the new church that day was Henry Howard Houston, the person most responsible for its formation. Houston had donated land, coordinated architectural planning, ...

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Chapter 3: A Labor “Exceedingly Magnificent”

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pp. 75-108

The George W. South Memorial Church of the Advocate has long been regarded as one of Philadelphia’s most architecturally stunning churches (fig. 1). With its soaring nave, ornamented spires, and rows of slender buttresses, the high French Gothic “cathedral in miniature” built between 1887 and 1897 was intended to rival its European counterparts. ...

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Chapter 4: The “Quaker-Turned-Episcopal Gentry”

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pp. 109-132

William Ellis Scull married Florence Prall at her family’s parish, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1887. Scull’s father, despite having traveled from Philadelphia for the occasion, was not in attendance. He stood at the door and watched his son approach the altar, ...

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Chapter 5: The Episcopal Ascendancy

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pp. 133-154

In 1919, the Episcopal Churchwomen of the Diocese of Pennsylvania traveled to Valley Forge for their annual social outing. During their visit, they were met by Rev. W. Herbert Burk, who guided them on a tour of the chapel being built within the Valley Forge State Park. The chapel, Burk’s labor of love for nearly two decades, commemorated George Washington and all the patriots who had fought for independence, ...

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Chapter 6: Confronting the “Money Interests”

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pp. 155-180

On Sunday, 20 June 1915, Rev. George Chalmers Richmond preached a sermon in defense of Professor Scott Nearing, who had been dismissed from the Wharton School faculty the preceding Monday, when the trustees of the University of Pennsylvania had simply informed him, without explanation, that they would not renew his teaching contract for the forthcoming academic year. ...

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Chapter 7: Changing Fortunes

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pp. 181-208

Writing to his congregation in early 1927, Rev. George H. Toop, the rector of Philadelphia’s Episcopal Church of the Holy Apostles, made a rather unusual appeal. He encouraged parishioners living at a distance from the church to purchase automobiles so that they might more easily travel to services. ...

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Conclusion: Legacies

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pp. 209-214

Philadelphia owes much to the legacy of industrial wealth. The economic prosperity of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries reshaped the local landscape, serving as a catalyst for the city’s emergence as a modern metropolis. It also refashioned social relations, widening the gulf between rich and poor ...


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pp. 215-250


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pp. 251-278


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pp. 279-286

Cover Back

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p. 302-302

E-ISBN-13: 9780271061078
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271059679
Print-ISBN-10: 0271059672

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 12
Publication Year: 2013