The first Grace Church, built in 1872, was a frame building, with vertical boards and battens, a steep roof and tall single pointed arch windows, designed by Richard Upjohn of New York. The name “Grace” was in honor of the deceased wife of Judge John H. Price, a longtime vestryman and community leader.
The wooden building was replaced by the present stone church when Mr. D.C. Wharton Smith, a Philadelphia financier who spent much time in Darlington, offered to assist with the financing of a new stone church. He subsequently refunded the money raised by other guarantors in order that the church might stand as a memorial to his father, Milton Smith (d. 1851). Thus the church became “Grace Memorial Church.”
On land given by the Quarles family, renowned church architect Theophilis P. Chandler of Philadelphia designed the Gothic revival style church. Its soapstone walls and slate roof were quarried locally, as was the green serpentinium column that marks the entrance to the baptistery. The cornerstone was laid in 1876, and the first services were held on June 17, 1877. Grace Memorial Church was consecrated in 1882 by Bishop Pinkey.
The church boasts many fine, original stained glass windows, intricate wood work, as well as beautiful, original stenciling on the east wall, behind the altar.
The original, wooden church was moved about 10 miles, to Scarboro, where it still stands, very little changed from the original. It was consecrated on Oct. 5 1882 as the Church of the Ascension, and is still an active worshipping congregation.
The present rectory, designed by Philadelphia architect Walter Cope, was built where the wooden church had stood in 1885.
The present parish house, with a large social hall, commercial kitchen and Sunday School rooms, was built and dedicated during the 1970s.
In the 1990s a bequest from Mrs. Dorothy Wilson enabled the parish to purchase adjacent property and renovate its large Victorian home (at one time the manse for the Presbyterian Church) to become the Wilson Ministry Center and extend outreach, ministry and hospitality to the greater Darlington community.