Nearly 40 years before the Civil War, an historic meeting took place at White Hall, the Howard County home of Charles W. Dorsey. It was decided on that day to found a new church that would provide the area’s Episcopalians with a more convenient place to worship. In 1822, a small church of stone and roughcast was built on land donated by Caleb and Elizabeth Dorsey. At 38-by-36 feet, the church was painted white and included four large columns and a portico in the front. “The White Church,” as the locals called it, accommodated 200 worshipers.
St. John's Episocpal Church and School: By 1859, plans were drawn for a larger church to be erected on the same site. The new church was built of Howard County granite and included a wooden arched belfry with a stone base and a magnificent solid stone spire reaching 83 feet into the sky. St. John’s is one of only 12 churches in the country with a solid stone spire.
To accommodate its rapidly growing Sunday School, St. John’s began construction of a new education building in 1963. Under the leadership of Rev. Al Rich and the dedication of its founder Betty Ford Umbach, St. John’s Parish Day School opened with a parent and child tea in 1965, offering preschool and Kindergarten programs. From the beginning, parents played a vital role at St. John’s, helping at Field Day and hosting special events like Spring Carnival and Fall Family Fun Day. This tradition of active family involvement in the life of the school continues today!
In 2001, an “Expanding Ministries” project resulted in construction of the Center for Ministry, Ellicott City private school and Education (CME), a building to house the new Lower School division of St. John's Parish Day School, and a renovation of the existing education building. This additional space helped to accommodate the church’s many ministries as well as expand SJPDS to offer Lower School programs. Now the CME houses both the Early Childhood and Lower School programs for the Parish Day School on weekdays and is used by the church on weekends and evenings for Christian education programs, youth activities, special events and meeting space.
In 2000, we offered our first Transitional Kindergarten program, and in 2002 we enrolled our inaugural class of first-graders. In 2005, we offered our first full-day-fours program. Our first class of fifth graders graduated on June 3, 2007. Our alumni attend some of the best independent and public schools in this region. Now, we are gearing up to celebrate our 50th Anniversary in the Fall of 2015!
The former Rectory (on left) is now known as Clark House and serves as the main Administrative and Admissions Office for St. John's Parish Day School