Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Beulah United Methodist Church

Beulah United Methodist Church (formerly Beulah Evangelical Church) is the spiritual home for 600 members in the eastern Johnstown neighborhood of Hornerstown. It is also one of the grandest designed churches in the Johnstown area, distinctively located along the much-traveled Bedford Street.

Although the church was founded in 1891, construction of the current building began in 1921. Dedicated on Sunday, March 8, 1924 by Bishop J. F. Dunlap of Cleveland, the building’s construction cost $140,000. J.C. Fulton and Son of Uniontown, PA designed the structure, with construction carried out by church member and superintendent of building operations, Garfield Small. The Building Committee employed a foreman and building crew, eliminating contractor profit, saving money for the church. The church was also the first in the city to contain a fireproof location for records. On dedication Sunday, almost 4,000 people attended three services and collections amounted to over $21,000.

The building is of Greek Classical design and includes various classical elements from the large green dome, to classical gabled roofs, and four Ionic columns at the front entrance. The primary construction materials included white Kittanning brick, limestone colored art stone, 60 tons of structural steel, stained glass windows, and dark oak. The building contains amenities that were very modern at the time including a low-pressure steam heating system and plumbing that was top-notch when installed. The pipe organ was built by A.J. Schantz & Co., of Orrville, O. to the specifications furnished by Prof. Curtis Amps, who played the organ for the church.

The entrance contains two sets of double doors oriented 90 degrees from the front face of the building and positioned under the porch and facing each other. The twin entrances to the main floor auditorium are at 45 degree angles and face the center of the room under the large, interior, back-lit, stained glass dome. The interior dome is approximately 30 feet below the external dome and that space contains much of the structural steel of the building.

The auditorium additionally contains twin balconies oriented opposite each other on the sides of the room and the rear contains a wall which opens to reveal additional space and a room with a large, flat panel of stained glass overhead. Behind the balconies are large stained glass windows which light up gloriously in the sunlight thanks to the favorable location that the church was constructed upon, one of the better locations in the city for sun exposure. The stained glass windows contain four emblems with names of saints on them: St. Matthew, St. John, St. Luke, and St. Matthew.
In the basement, below the auditorium the building contains a social room with a raised platform and the rear of the basement area consists of a dining room, a kitchen, and a class room. The rear portion of the first and second floors contains the areas for administrative duties, Bible classes, and other church activities.

Name: Beulah United Methodist Church
Location: 716 Bedford Street, Johnstown, PA
Religious Affiliation: Methodist
Date of Construction: 1921
Architect: J.C. Fulton and Son (Uniontown, PA)
Building Style: Greek Classical
Plan Type: Domed central-plan
Primary Materials: white Kittanning brick, limestone color art stone, sixty tons of structural steel, stain glass windows, and dark oak
Status: Active

Domes and Spires (published by the Tribune Democrat and Johnstown Magazine, 2008)
Article from “The Evangelical Messenger” March 24, 1924
Attached floor plan from church archives
Church website

researched by Thomas Brown

Ascension of Our Lord Byzantine Catholic Church

Located at 318 Park Avenue in the small city of Clairton, Pennsylvania, Ascension is the largest Byzantine Catholic Church in the city.

Ascension of Our Lord Byzantine Catholic Church was founded in 1907 in the heavily-industrial city of Clairton by Ruthenian immigrants from the Carpathian Mountains of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy. They worshiped according to the Greek or Byzantine rite, following the Julian Calendar as well as using the Cyrillic alphabet, under the Pope of Rome. The Church was rebuilt in 1981.

The well-maintained building was designed by Joseph Balobek who has built most of the modern churches in the surrounding areas. Balobek, a 30-plus year veteran of architecture, has worked on more than 800 projects; he creates unique designs for not only modern churches, but also residential housing. The style is that of a rotunda with a Byzantine arch. The Pantocrator is the highest dome in the church and represents the upholding of all things; it also houses paintings of the four evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The building is predominantly red brick, with the inside mostly marble with wooden pews. Small domes are seen in the archway as well as quarter domes on the side of the brick auditorium and rectory. The outside of the church is red brick and contemporary styled. Outside a small semi-courtyard can be found.

The entire church interior was gloriously hand-painted by Mila Mina, mother of the current pastor Fr. Ivan Mina. The Icon phase marble alter stand in the front of the church with dignity facing the wooden pews. The interior also houses various scenes from The Bible including Jesus on the cross and The Trinity.

Byzantine iconography sees the church as a microcosm of heaven and earth, united through salvation. The highest point of the domed ceiling houses an icon of Christ. In the apse the Blessed Mother Mary is shown mid-prayer. At the back of the sanctuary the apostles are nourished by Christ’s body and blood. Lower on the walls women saints are seen on the left side while men are on the right, as is tradition in the Byzantine churches of Europe. The back wall shows the Judgment, as well as Heaven and Hell. The altar area, separated from the nave of the church, has four great icons: St. John the Baptist, who points to the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world; the Blessed Mother holding the Christ Child; Christ the Teacher; and the patronal icon of the church, namely, the icon of the Ascension.

Name: Ascension of our Lord Byzantine Church
Location: 318 Park Ave. Clairton Pa, 15025
Religious Affiliation: Byzantine Catholic
Date of Construction: 1981
Architect: Joseph Balobek (Pittsburgh)
Building Style: Modern brick constructed with Byzantine influence and archways
Plan Type: Modern Byzantine influence
Primary Materials: Brick, marble, wood
Status: Active

Personal Interview with Fr. Ivan Mila
Church website
Architect Joseph Balobek website

researched by Leah Sporio

Belmont United Methodist Church

The first mission church of the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the Evangelical United Brethren Church, Belmont United Methodist Church is an example of the more contemporary churches found on the suburban hilltops overlooking the city of Johnstown.

Belmont United Methodist Church began in a small chapel across Coldren Street in the early 1950’s, parallel to where the current structure stands. A survey taken by the Mission Boards of the former Evangelical and the United Brethren Churches on April 2, 1950 (ironically, Palm Sunday) determined that the need existed for a new church in the growing community of Belmont. Two years later—on Easter Sunday—the first official service was held in the new building, with 114 members in attendance. This “Christian Educational Building” presently serves as the Fellowship Hall and kitchen.

It was soon apparent, however, that a larger building was needed, so a second phase of construction was undertaken. The Board of Missions of the Evangelical United Brethren church assumed the debt from the first building, and the sanctuary of the new building was completed and dedicated on September 12, 1954. Within a decade, the second building's debt was paid off, with the help of two annual Cash Rally Days.

By the time the congregational meeting was held in 1969 to discuss the third phase of construction, the church had converted to Methodist from the UEB. A ballot was voted on and the decision was made to add an educational wing and pastoral office, whose concompletion was celebrated with a commemorative service on July 12, 1970.

Belmont United Methodist Church is one of many contemporary churches found in the Johnstown area, most found on the suburban hilltops overlooking the city, coinciding with the migration of middle-class families out of Johnstown city limits particularly after World War II.

The stained glass windows in the sanctuary vividly reflect light in multiple colors throughout the pews. In all, there are eight five-paned windows, each with its own symbolic image. Images like the Ten Commandments, the Bible, the Cross and a goblet are all present with magnificent illumination only seen inside during the day.

A plain wooden cross behind the choral seating on the altar may also be of interest. This cross measures approximately eight feet high and hangs on a wall, but has the appearance of sitting on a ledge. From the back of the sanctuary the cross appears larger and better lit, courtesy of the pleasant and smooth color of the sanctuary's glorious wooden plank ceiling.

The lower level Fellowship Hall is also worthy of a glance. This area seats 400 people in an 83’ X 40’ building and includes an industrial kitchen, as well as a large classroom.

Name: Belmont United Methodist Church
Location: 107 Coldren Street, Johnstown, PA
Religious Affiliation: Methodist
Date of Construction: 1952, 1954, 1970 (three phases)
Architect: Ross, Cramer, and Pawlowski
Building Style: Contemporary
Plan Type: Rectilinear
Primary Materials: Cinder-block construction, brick exterior and plaster/wood interior.
Status: Active

Church website
Interview with Pastor Keith Dunn
Bulletin from third phase Service of Dedication

researched by Alex Polacek

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church

Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church has many aesthetically pleasing aspects to behold inside the sanctuary. Constructed in 1959, the sanctuary follows a rectilinear open hall plan, including a nave and altar. The visitor becomes encased by endless rows of stained glass surrounding the sanctuary. The stained glass cross above the alter offers additional colored light for the congregation. After service, exit through the large narthex and view the magnificent mural painting above the doors as you depart. Enjoy your architectural experience at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Under the Rev. Robert J. Keller, the congregation of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Johnstown, Pennsylvania held their first service on March 9, 1941, in the vacant ballroom in the old Dupont mansion. At the second meeting on June 15, 1941, the name “Christ’s Evangelical Lutheran Church” was chosen, later changed to simply “Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church.” Officially chartered in August 1942, the congregation purchased the Dupont property in January 1943. By June 1946, the congregation had grown from 20 to 178 members, thus in November 1947, plans were made to remodel the ballroom into a more suitable worship space.

In January 1954, the congregation held a meeting to discuss building an entirely new sanctuary. Additional property was purchased in 1956 to expand Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church. The Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church congregation consulted the Department of Church Architecture as well as local architects, James H. Kring and J. Richard Ross, in drafting plans for the building of their new sanctuary, and construction began on May 10, 1959.

The sanctuary of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church follows a rectilinear open hall plan, including a nave lined with pews and an altar found under a massive pointed arch. The original draft of the sanctuary was drawn in classical Christian basilica form with a transept. However, there were three parties involved in establishing the layout of the church that had varying views of the sanctuary. The parties involved include the congregation, the Department of Church Architecture, and the architects, Kring and Ross. Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church was the first church constructed by James H. Kring, an architect known for his local modern houses. The Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church sanctuary, which we see today, is a product of many compromises made in the past among the three parties.

Visitors to the sanctuary first enter into the large narthex and continue into the nave for worship where the altar becomes the focal point at the eastern end. The stained glass windows enclose the sanctuary on both sides, evoking a light feeling within the space. The specific colors of the stained glass panes, made of double rolled opalescent antique glass, was chosen by the Department of Church Architecture and approved by Kring. The congregation wanted the stained glass to consist of two rows in an effort to lower the roof and allow for a more efficient space. However, in the final sanctuary the stained glass is comprised of three rows and multiple columns. Steel frames throughout the sanctuary part the stained glass into sections, creating stained glass patches. Each section of stained glass is comprised of a dozen rectangular panes of glass, consistent in width but varying in height. There are wide ranges of colors used among the stained glass, ranging from lime green to clear, with the most frequently used colors being blues and purple. There is no known significance for the chosen colors and patterns in the stained glass, although it is speculated that they were chosen based on the range of prices presented by the dye for the panes. The stained glad windows at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church create a mystical space and are a must-see feature that is impossible to miss.

The stained glass directs your attention towards the incredible white marble altar housed under a massive wooden pointed arch that emphases the separation from nave to altar. Three steps leading to the altar signify the Holy Trinity. A stained glass mosaic cross is embedded into the wall directly above the white marble altar. Similar to the stained glass windows, the colors for the cross were the decision of the Department of Church Architecture. Unlike the stained glass windowpanes, the cross appears to be fragmented glass, with each piece individual and unique. A thick black line connects each piece of glass to the others for functional and artistic reasons. In contrast, the stained glass windowpanes appear to be seamlessly placed together without any thick connecting element. The cross is a spectacular piece of art at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church and concludes the sanctuary’s engulfment of colored light.

Another breathtaking element of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church is the painted mural located on the south wall of the large narthex. The artist William Pasternak, a local Johnstown man who acquired his MFA from the University of Miami (OH), approached the congregation on September 20, 1964, offering to paint a mural inside the church. The painting juxtaposes the history of the past with current history and serves as a reminder of God’s creation of the entire universe. The bottom half of the mural depicts the history component of the painting and is separated into four sections. The past history depicts many historically famous figures such as Martin Luther, Paul Revere, and George Washington. A tree in the middle of the mural holds a badge which displays a cross and the words “Lutheran Church In America” encrusted around the outside of the circle. This tree becomes the dividing line between the past and present. Above the tree on the right hand side we see industrial steel mills and coalmines, the economic lifeblood of Johnstown and western Pennsylvania. On the far right there is an Army soldier as well as a Navy sailor. On the right hand side, the lighting of the candle symbolizes the establishment of faith. In the top half of the painting, Christ is visualized directly above the tree along with images of the creation of Earth. Pasternak selected Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church for the architectural elements that Christ Lutheran had to offer. Originally, Pasternak wanted to display his painted inside the nave but the congregation was hesitant. Pasternak received a thank you letter from the congregation in February 1965 upon completion of the mural. The painted mural became the first art piece installed in Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church and remains there today.

Name: Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church
Location: 337 Elknud Lane, Johnstown, PA (Westmont Borough)
Religious Affiliation: Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA)
Date of Construction: 1959
Architect: James H. Kring and J. Richard Ross
Building Style: Modern
Plan Type: Rectilinear open hall plan
Primary Materials: Wood, brick, concrete, stained glass, steel
Status: Active

Numerous Historical documents from the Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church archives as well as current Pastor, Rev. Robert Arbarno were consulted as resources for the above information.
Church website

researched by Monica Rohrabaugh

St. Luke’s Lutheran Church

St. Luke’s Lutheran Church is located on Route 53 in Lilly Pennsylvania, approximately 80 miles east of Pittsburgh. It is the oldest church in the town of Lilly and is one of the few churches with a clock tower in the area.

The St. Luke’s Lutheran congregation was organized on June 22, 1873. The congregation applied for a charter through the Cambria County courts on December 12, 1901, and it was granted on September 16, 1902. The cornerstone for St. Luke’s was laid on September 4, 1904, and the building was completed and ready for dedication on June 18, 1905. The original cost of the church was $15,000. The building is 86 feet long by 46 feet wide, made of concrete blocks over a wooden frame. The church was constructed with a clock tower that stands approximately 60 feet high. The clock with its four different faces possesses a mechanism imported from Germany. In 1956 the clock was converted to run on electricity and had four motors installed, one to run each face of the clock. In 1964 the striker motor that tolled the bell burned out and it was decided to update the clock at this time. In 1967 the update was complete and included a mechanism to run all four clocks at the same time by using one motor. It originally had a steeple high above its clock tower, but this had to be removed in the early 1920’s after it had been struck multiple times by lightning. In 1915 a stone fence was erected around the church property at a cost of about $900. The fence included wrought iron gates, which were subsequently removed after a teenage boy died after impaling himself while running across the top of the stone fence. The hinges for the gates can still be seen embedded into the stones at each entry way. Due to its crumbling state, the stone fence was restored by the end of 2008.

The most notable feature of St. Luke’s is its four-sided clock tower stretching approximately 60 feet high. There are two main entryways into the church with pointed arched stained glass windows above them. One of these is at the base of the tower. Above this door in the stained-glass window reads the words “St. Luke’s Lutheran Church 1915.” Above the window, in the tower, is the church’s only Rose window. Unfortunately, this window cannot be seen from the inside of the church unless you are in the clock tower. On the side next to the entryway is another stained glass window depicting a young woman holding onto a stone cross over a stormy sea. Though the exact meaning behind this window is unclear it is believed that it may be referring to a civil war song. Approximately three-quarters of the way up the tower, using four rounded arches, there is an open section in the tower where the bell is located. At the top of the tower is the clock. The actual clock itself is accessed by crossing through the attic on a catwalk over the nave of the church, than climbing a series of ladders. The clock is considered by many to be the town clock and still works today, tolling the hour every hour twenty-four hours a day. An interesting fact about the clock is, though the church does the maintenance on the clock and pays for the electricity to the rest of the church, Lilly borough pays for the electricity to run and light the clock.

Another interesting aspect of the building is its exterior. Though at first glimpse it may appear to be a stone structure, it is in fact made of concrete block. During the building of the church, laborers used molds on site to pour each block using concrete. Each block is only about 5 or 6 inches thick, and the building actually has a wooden frame underneath.

Once you enter the church you will see that the church is divided into two sides, one being the nave and the other being an open area that is currently being used as a bible study area. These two areas are separated by a sliding wooden door that recesses into the wall allowing, if needed to expand the area of the nave.

Keeping with the Carpenter Gothic style of this structure there are many high pitched roofs and gothic style windows in this church. The intersecting roof lines above the nave of the church allow for the ceiling to have many dramatic angles. These angles seem to allow sound from the altar to carry throughout the church easily without the need for a sound system.

St. Luke’s has three large Gothic stained-glass windows, each measuring 124 inches by 224 inches. They depict “Jesus as the creator”, “Jesus at Gethsemane”, and “Jesus as the Good Shepherd.” Two of these windows (the Good Shepherd and Gethsemane) were taken down and restored by Bovard Studios of Iowa in 2007 and 2008 at a cost of $75,000. There are also fourteen smaller Gothic-style pointed arched stained-glass windows throughout the structure. Four of these cannot be seen from the interior unless you are in the clock tower and have no special ornamentation. Nine depict symbols from the Bible, such as Alpha and Omega symbols, and a dove holding an olive branch. The one exception is one window that is dedicated to the American Civil War, featuring an eagle over crossed cannons and a flag with one large star on the blue field surrounded by 13 smaller stars. The origin of this flag is unclear and may have, in fact, been simply an artistic creation. This window was moved from the exterior of the church to the side of the office when the office was later constructed after the church’s completion.

There is also a brick parsonage behind the church that was completed in 1916. The church’s office connects the parsonage to the church.

Name: St Luke’s Lutheran Church
Location: 604 Cleveland St, Lilly, PA 15938
Religious Affiliation: Lutheran
Date of Construction: September 1904 till June 1905
Architect: unknown
Building Style: Carpenter Gothic
Plan Type: Open hall-type
Primary Materials: Concrete blocks, wood
Status: Active

Salony, Jim. Telephone interview. 3 Dec. 2010.
Lilly Washington Historical Society. The Spirit of a Community. pp. 116-117
Palko, Rev John. Personal interview. 3 Dec. 2010.
Rev. W. H. Bruce Carney. The History of the Allegany Evangelical Lutheran Synod. The Lutheran Publication Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1918

researched by Danielle Walls

St. Thomas Evangelical Lutheran Church

St. Thomas Evangelical Lutheran Church is a rural community church that first started with worship in the homes of pioneer Christian families as far back as 1813. The present Church Building is the third structure for this congregation on or near this location. In 2010, the Church celebrated its 136th anniversary as a Lutheran Church.

The St. Thomas Evangelical Lutheran Church of Paint Township, Somerset County, was organized in the Flat Rock Schoolhouse, April 11, 1874, by Rev. J.A. Nuer, with 29 charter members.

This organization, known at first as the “Ridge Congregation” belonging to the Scalp Level charge, decided to build a church. On August 15, 1874, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Lohr donated over an acre of ground for the first church and it was renamed in their honor, St. Thomas Lutheran.

The first building was a structure 33’ x 30’ x 12’. There were no pews, two front doors, no porch, one pulpit, and no altar. The building had three windows on two sides with no color, two heating stoves, oil lamps, no electricity, a hitching post to accommodate ten horses and buggies and an outhouse due to the lack of plumbing.

To accommodate the growing congregation it was decided in 1903 to build a larger church. A new location was selected so as have access to more and better burial ground. Property was donated by the widow and heirs of David Naugle. This church was a plank structure measuring 36’ x50’—weather boarded and plastered with a yellow pine ceiling, slate roof, a steeple with bell, brackets along the wall for oil lamps, frosted colored window glass, vestibule and oak furniture.

In 1921, this building was moved to face the main road and the basement was excavated to make Sunday school rooms. About two acres of ground was donated for the relocated church building by Mr. & Mrs. John T. Lohr and their son Moses Lohr.

On August 29, 1965 it was voted to build the third and existing church consisting of a sanctuary and education building all-in-one. The present church (built in 1966) is wood-framed structure with a brick veneer—a modern looking exterior with a semi-modern, semi-gothic interior. The interior of the nave is composed of pine tongue-and-groove with laminated arch beams. The exterior possesses a high steeple that once bent in a windstorm, and thus now has a solid steel core.

When you walk into the church you will notice the large cross behind the altar and the two beautifully colored stained glass strips of acrylic glass that extend from floor to ceiling. The composition of this particular glass allows the sunlight to penetrate the glass and illuminate the altar and the whole nave.

The bell tower outside holds the bell from the second church. It is made of cast iron. The bell tower itself is made of concrete and is waiting for the bell to ring again. It currently needs to be rebuilt.

Name: St. Thomas Evangelical Lutheran Church
Location: 1439 Ridge Road Hooversville, Pa 15936
Religious Affiliation: Lutheran
Date of Construction: 1874-present
Architect: Creative Building Inc., Banning, IL (1966 structure)
Building Style: Modern
Plan Type: Open hall-type
Primary Materials: Wood, brick, plaster
Status: Active

History of the Allegheny Evangelical Lutheran Synod vol.2 by Rev. W.H. Bruce Carney Printed for the Synod by the Lutheran Publication Society pp. 575-579.
Parishioners of St. Thomas Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Church website

researched by Tracey Maust

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Saint Vincent Basilica

Located on the campus of Saint Vincent College in Latrobe (about 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh), Saint Vincent Basilica was the dream of founding Archabbot Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B., but one not realized until four years after his death on December 21, 1891. The monastery he founded here was the first Benedictine monastery founded in the United States.

The Basilica’s history begins with the arrival of Father Boniface Wimmer in 1846. Catholic worshippers, mostly a small group of farmers from around the district, gathered in a brick building dedicated to Saint Vincent de Paul. The archabbey later took shape around this building and the monastery grew from it. But, immediate plans for a new church were passed over at the behest of establishing outlying missions and branches of the Benedictine Order.

In the 1880s, it became evident the congregation was outgrowing the size of the old brick church, although a lack of funds set back the beginnings of construction. It was under the Rt. Rev. Archabbot Andrew Hintenach that preparations began in August 1891, with the first stones hauled to the site of the future church. Foundation work commenced on December 21, 1891, when a Solemn High Mass was announced for 9:00 a.m. and parish children were invited to be the first to remove the soil. The first stone was laid in April 1892, with plans calling for the exterior of the library and chapel to be completed before winter.

The basement was completed in June 1893. However, work halted for the following two years due to a lack of funds. The original plan, which called for a stone church, was then altered to a more cost-effective brick structure. Summer 1896 saw the walls climb higher and higher still, but from fall 1897 until summer 1899, the Saint Vincent’s Journal, which had been keeping readers up to date of the building progress, was silent, symbolic of the progress made.

All interior construction was completed by July 1901. By mid-1903, all of the windows were installed, thus completing the exterior. However, the interior lacked nearly all the necessary furnishings, with the altar installed within the next few months, and a mosaic floor laid in late 1904. Finally, the church was consecrated on August 24, 1905—fifty years after the establishment of the monastery. Since its consecration, additions to the Archabbey include: a heroic-size statue of Archabbot Boniface Wimmer, new reliquaries, the Grotto Basement Chapel, and various interior renovations.

Nestled in the small college campus of Saint Vincent, the basilica stands out among the foliage in the spring, summer, and fall, and the snow flurries of the cold Western Pennsylvania winters. Although the surrounding area has become more developed since the humbler farming era of the 1800s, there is still a sacred feeling that is recognizable in and around the church. There is much to do in and around the basilica grounds.

Catholic and non-Catholic visitors can tour the chapel during regular hours that do not interfere with the mass and monastic schedules. The gristmill, where the monks make bread and other fine things, is just a short drive from the basilica, and the college campus is also open to visitors.

The first piece of interest to visitors as they approach the church is the larger-than-life statue of Archabbot Boniface Wimmer. Erected in 1931, the statue is dedicated to the man who envisioned a grand church, but had not seen it completed. The front fa├žade is the other point of interest on the exterior of the building. The tympanum depicts Jesus handing over the keys of the Kingdom to Saint Peter and just above it, the Rose window, demonstrates the use of bar tracery. In historic fashion, the exterior of the Romanesque-style basilica is otherwise austere.

Once inside, the nave opens in a grand style. Even though the church holds only 800 people, it has the expansive feel of larger European basilicas. The main points of interest around the interior are the stained glass windows, 27 in all plus three Rose windows (one above the main portal and one on each transept). Above the altar in the crossing vaults are paintings of the four Evangelists and their symbols according to the Book of Revelations.

There is also a Parish Center that includes a large conference center and nice little gift shop full of religious items for purchase.

Name: Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica
Location: 300 Fraser Purchase Road, Latrobe, PA 15650
Religious Affiliation: Roman Catholic (Benedictine)
Date of Construction: 1891-1905
Architect: William Schickel (New York)
Building Style: Rheinish Romanesque
Plan Type: Basilica
Primary Materials: Brick, granite
Status: Active

The Saint Vincent Basilica, Latrobe, Pennsylvania One Hundred Years (Archabbey Publications, 2005).
website of Saint Vincent Basilica Parish (includes a virtual tour)
website of Saint Vincent Archabbey (for more complete history)

researched by Eric James

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


"Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things."—Cicero

"Architecture is the triumph of human imagination over materials, methods and men, to put man in possession of his own earth"—Frank Lloyd Wright

From nearly the very beginning of human existence, we have sought out sacred spaces, as places to experience personal fulfillment and/or to gather and connect with one another in shared experience. So much of our collective memory is rooted in the power and magnificence of these buildings, yet, in places like the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania, many of these structures have fallen into disuse or are fading as the region’s population continues to decline.

The purpose of this blog is to preserve the knowledge of the religious structures of this region. As part of the FA 0080 World Religious Architecture course taught at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, students conducted much of the research on those structures still in use. This blog is the result.

We always welcome comments that reflect personal memories or add to the histories thus presented.