Saint Malachy, South Side

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South Side

Parish History

St. Malachy was established in 1869.  The rise of the parish can be traced to the growth of the glass and iron industry, in what was then called Birmingham, but is now the South Side of Pittsburgh.  These industries attracted numerous immigrants, including immigrants from Ireland.  A number of them settled near the Monongahela River in a community called Limerick.  Initially, these Irish residents were members of St. Paul Cathedral.  However, the difficulty of crossing the river interfered in their ability to practice their religion.  To solve this problem, the pastor of the Cathedral purchased two adjoining houses on the South Side in 1869.  The partitions between the houses were torn down and the combined building was converted into a temporary chapel.  The chapel was dedicated on August 26, 1869.  Before the end of the year, a resident pastor was assigned to the parish.  The next year, work began on a permanent church.  The cornerstone was laid on May 15,1870, and the completed church was dedicated on September 24, 1871.

Unfortunately, the location of the parish made its future prospects doubtful.  The church and its surrounding congregation was located on a relatively narrow strip of land between the river and Mt. Washington.  The residential area was continually being squeezed out by the growth of industrial plants and the railroads.  This trend was accelerated with the opening of the Monongahela incline in 1870 and the Duquesne incline in 1876.  These inclines made it possible for the residents of the flat lands to move up to the cleaner air on Mt. Washington.  By 1873, so many people had moved to Mt. Washington, that the pastor of St. Malachy purchased a lot on Mt. Washington on September 1, 1873, and built the church that would later become St. Mary of the Mount.  St. Mary remained a mission of St. Malachy for four years.

As the years progressed, the parish was even further hemmed in by industry.  A priest arriving in the parish in 1913 was quoted as describing his parish as "railroads to the left, railroads to the right, railroads overhead, and for something extra fancy, an ore dump in the back yard."  In the 1920's,  the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad made an offer to buy the parish property.  By 1928, the parish was down to less than 100 members.  On January 4, 1928, the church committee passed a resolution to sell the parish property to the railroad.  The final Mass of the parish was celebrated on March, 4, 1928.

Photos From the Diocesan Archive:

St. Malachy Church, undated.

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