Saint Mary (German), McKeesport

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Parish History

As the name implies, St. Mary was founded in 1887 as a German parish.  The impetus for the founding of the parish was the desire of local German Catholics to have a school in which the German language would be spoken.  A meeting with the bishop in 1886 led the bishop to create the parish on August 7, 1887.  Mass was celebrated in a private hall, Ryan's Hall, while a combined church and school building was being constructed.  The completed church/school building was dedicated on April 29, 1888.  The first floor of the building served as the school while the upper floor served as the church.

The steady growth of the congregation soon led to overcrowding in the existing building.  Work on a new church began in 1906.  The cornerstone was laid on September 23, 1906, and the church was dedicated on April 26, 1908.  St. Mary's Church was built in the early Christian Basilica model, the only church of its type in the United States.  The church was further set apart from other churches by the addition in the fall of 1908 of a series of murals representing the Life of Christ.  The old church was converted into a parish hall. 

The church was renovated in the early 1960's, the late 1960's and in the 1980's.  By this time, however, the population of  McKeesport had been steadily dropping.  Within a few years, it became obvious that the city could no longer support the number of existing parishes.  In 1993, St. Mary merged with Holy Trinity, St. Peter and Sacred Heart parishes to form the new St. Martin de Porres parish.  As part of the merger, the decision was made to close St. Mary Church.  The church closed in 1993 and, after the murals were removed and sold, was torn down in 1997.

Photos From the Diocesan Archive:

First St. Mary Church, 1933
Front view of second church, 1933
Rear view of second church, 1933
Interior of second church, 1933

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