Norwalk a century ago was a booming place. The year 1908 saw good news and bad news as usual. The bad news that year was the destruction by fire of the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad shops west of North Pleasant and North Jefferson. The good news included the formation of our present Chamber of Commerce, and the beginning of work on the present Episcopal church building on West Main.
The congregation of St. Paul Episcopal Church dates from January of 1821 when 18 local citizens enrolled themselves as member and friends of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Small worship services had been held since the year 1818 and the 1821 meeting formalized the new parish. One of the founders was Platt Benedict, whose family was the first to settle in Norwalk.
Some of the earliest worship services were held in the Benedict cabin, and then in the first courthouse until the first church, a frame building, was completed in 1835. This first church served until 1909 and we remember it as the parish house which was destroyed by an arsonist in 1976. This church stood on the site of the present building, and was moved back onto the northeast corner of the cemetery to become the parish house.
In the summer of 1908 the plans and provisions for a new church building were ready, and work started in July to move the wooden church back and begin excavating for the new stone building. The new church was a wondrous improvement, but there were the usual nay-sayers who preferred to keep the old church and its attendant memories. Their basic objections were fueled when it was found that four or five fine maples would have to be cut down to accommodate the old church after it was moved. No doubt, though, those feelings healed with time.