Our History & Architecture


Tenth Presbyterian Church—the tenth Presbyterian church founded in Philadelphia—began in 1829 on the northeast corner of 12th and Walnut Streets.

About 25 years later, 1855–56, Tenth started a daughter church at 17th and Spruce in order to meet the needs of the expanding city. The building for the new West Spruce Street Presbyterian Church was designed by John McArthur (Philadelphia’s City Hall architect) and constructed in 1857.

Nearly 40 years later, in 1893, the original church closed, sold its building, and merged with the daughter church. The newly combined churches then took on the original church’s name, Tenth Presbyterian Church.


In 1893, when the old Tenth merged with the West Spruce Street church, the latter totally redesigned the interior with architect Frank Miles Day, who used Byzantine decoration. Much of his work remains in our current building. You can find more information here, or you can contact us to arrange a tour (or just drop in during business hours and we will do our best).

Our stability for nearly 200 years is owed, by God's grace, to the long pastorates of the five “B’s”:

  • Henry Augustus Boardman, 1833–1876 (43 years)
  • William Pratt Breed, 1856–1889 (33 years)
  • Marcus A. Brownson, 1897–1924 (27 years)
  • Donald Grey Barnhouse, 1927–1960 (33 years)
  • James Montgomery Boice, 1968–2000 (32 years)

Dr. Liam Goligher, our current senior minister, succeeds Dr. Phillip Graham Ryken, now President of Wheaton College in Illinois.

We are a church of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), a young denomination founded in 1973. Tenth joined with the PCA in 1982, consistent with our alignment to historical Presbyterian tradition and beliefs.