The Peace Lutheran congregation was formally organized by German settlers in 1838, which pre-dated the founding of Gahanna by eleven years. Until 1906 it was identified by its German name, "Freidens", meaning "peace". The first church was built in 1838 and was located on Johnstown Road. In the following years, as settlers assimilated into early American society, services became bilingual. In 1867 the church was divided into separate German and English congregations which used the church on alternate Sundays. Each congregation had its own minister and vestry.
By 1894 the two congregations had outgrown the original church which was then dismantled. The second Peace Lutheran Church, now known as the Olde Gahanna Sanctuary, was constructed in 1895 using bricks from the first building at a cost of roughly $8,500. The system of dual congregations continued until 1917. With the outbreak of World War 1, English became the sole language for worship services, a reflection of anti-German sentiment which was prevalent in allied nations during the hostilities.
The congregation continued to grow after 1918, as evidenced by the construction of a Parish Hall addition in 1938 (now known as The Gallery). In 1963 a cornerstone was laid for a new church building at a new location at the northeast corner of Hamilton and Clark State Roads and the Olde Gahanna Sanctuary was sold. After 1965 the old church building underwent a series of owners and slowly deteriorated until demolition was considered. Community members launched a campaign to save this cherished city landmark and the non-profit Olde Gahanna Sanctuary, Inc. was formed to purchase, restore and preserve the former church. The Sanctuary is now used as a community event center and hosts a variety of events such as weddings, receptions, anniversaries, banquets, meetings and community activities.
The Gahanna Sanctuary is the only example of Gothic Revival religious architecture in Gahanna and features Von Gerichten stained glass windows. Brothers Ludwig and Theodore Von Gerichten were German immigrants who first settled near Birmingham, Alabama. Ludwig later moved to Cincinnati, to learn the art of stained glass at the Riordan Stained Glass Studio. Afterward, he operated an art glass studio in Alabama for a short while, and then persuaded Theodore to join him as business manager in a new art glass venture in Columbus. Here, they were highly successful, winning many top honors at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, and later opening a second studio in Munich. By the time the Von Gerichten brothers parted ways in the 1930's, their company had created an estimated 1,800 stained glass windows for about 850 churches across the country.
Von Gerichten used a technique called 'plating' which means having multiple layers of glass in a window. The sheets of glass that Von Gerichten used for the stained glass windows were machine glass and were most likely produced at the Kokomo City Glass Company in Kokomo, Indiana since that company has verified that they did indeed sell glass to Von Gerichten in 1895 when the Sanctuary windows were created. While not all 1800 Von Gerichten stained glass windows still exist, the majority of the windows, like those in The Sanctuary, still grace the buildings in which they were originally installed. Stained glass windows during the Gothic era were particularly important. Their function was to fill the interior with a mystical colored light, representing the Holy Spirit, and also to illustrate the stories of the Bible for the large majority of the congregation who could not read.
The first history video below is by Ed Lentz, one of Ohio’s preeminent historians and a founding father of the Columbus Landmarks Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to historic preservation in central Ohio.
The second video was assembled in the summer of 2020 by Satolli Glassmeyer, founder of “History in Your Own Backyard,” who features beautiful historic places "in your own backyard".