Photos: Historical Society of Dauphin County
St. Lawrence German Catholic Church was organized in April of 1859 by Father Dryer of York. The first meeting of the congregation was held in a rented hall on January 1, 1860, and from that point, the congregation met twice a month with Father M. J. Meurer and Father J. Vollmeyer presiding. In 1869, Father Clemens A. Koppernagle planned to build a permanent church building and purchased the lots between 440 and 502 Walnut Street for $11,5oo.
Father Koppernagle was instrumental in the actual building of the church, serving as his own contractor and architect. The breathtaking interior was supposedly the handiwork of Koppernagle, who was said to have labored "day by day, for years, alone and unassisted, . . . [he] sawed and hewed and carved until creations of beauty stood forth beneath his chisel and mallet." At the Walnut Street location, the church, a rectory, a parochial school, and a Sisters of Christian Charity building, which fronted onto Short Street (111-117 Short), were constructed. The new church building was dedicated in 1878, and Koppernagle served the church until his death in 1891. The parochial school, originally overseen by August Karie, church organist, was taken over by the Sisters of Christian Charity in 1895. The school was located at the back of the church property and seems to have fronted onto Angle Alley.
The congregation seemed to have little idea that their church would have to move as late as 1907 because in that year the frame buildings for the rectory, school, and Sisters of Christian Charity were replaced with brick structures.
(Summarized from an article written by J. Howard Wert for the Harrisburg Patriot newspaper on December 16, 1912, and reprinted in Harrisburg's Old Eighth Ward, edited by Michael Barton and Jessica Dorman, (Charleston: Arcadia, 2002), 33-35.)