St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Monongahela PA – Then and Now

I came across an old post card showing St. Paul’s church as it appeared years ago when it still had a steeple. It’s always interesting to compare how things change over the years so here is a photograph of the church taken in 2010:

St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Monongahela PA
St. Paul Episcopal Church, Monongahela PA March 2010

And here is how the church appeared on a postcard with a 1909 postmark:

St. Paul's Church, Monongahela PA circa 1909
St. Paul's Church, Monongahela PA circa 1909

The the first thing that grabs your attention are the vines! My gosh, the place looks abandoned. Who would have guessed that the church was actually flourishing under the leadership of Rev. John Palmer Norman, M.D.  In fact the Historical magazine of Monongahela’s old home coming week: Sept. 6-13, 1908 refers to the church affectionately as the  “… ‘ivy walled’ St. Paul’s…” and since St. Pauls is an Episcopal church my guess is that Rev. Norman felt that the ivy gave it the appearance of Anglican churches back in England. According to the blog created to celebrate St. Paul’s 150th anniversary:

Norman was very keen to connect St. Paul’s to its Anglican roots and so started many English-themed organizations and events, including soccer and cricket teams.

At the time, Monongahela was being flooded with immigrants due to the booming coal industry and I’m sure St. Paul’s would have been a comforting sight to somebody arriving here from England.

Rev. John Palmer Morgan, M.D.
The Rev. John Palmer Morgan, M.D.

Another thing I noticed from the postcard is how the steeple had developed a severe tilt. This tilt is apparent in other photographs at the time and eventually the steeple was torn down. According to the history section over at the Monongahela United Methodist Church website:

In 1925, a brick fell from the tower [of the Methodist church]. The Catholic church steeple had just been destroyed by lightning about the same year, and the steeple of St. Paul’s Episcopal, which had been leaning for years, had just been removed.

Now this is pure speculation on my part but I bet the congregation of St. Paul’s waited until after Dr. Norman’s retirement before tearing it down. I bet it would have broken his heart to witness its removal. (Rev. Norman retired in 1918 and moved to Cochranton Pa. where he passed away in 1923 at the age of 83 after serving at the church for 40 years.) It would have cost a tremendous amount to either repair or replace the steeple so removal would have been the most economical thing to do. It’s just a shame that they didn’t keep gables on the tower roof to give the tower a finished appearance. My guess is that the roof valleys at the base of the steeple failed and rotted the rafters.

Just a few other observations:

  • Notice how similar the old and new lamp posts are. Kudos to whoever chose the new design when the sidewalks were replaced and electrical lines buried years ago. (just wish they would turn down the wattage – too much glare when you drive through town)
  • Notice how the old steps have been removed and replaced. The building had a more elegant appearance with the old steps and its gently sloping yard. The new steps however are much more accessible with a wheelchair ramp on the left side.
  • It’s a shame those trees are in the way. I wish I could have seen the building to the left of the church!

And finally, an aerial picture of the church and its surroundings:

St. Paul's Episcopal Church from above. Monongahela PA

Visit the St. Paul’s church website for information about church activities and to view pictures of the interior.

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2 thoughts on “St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Monongahela PA – Then and Now

  1. Bill Bonacci April 2, 2011 / 7:53 pm

    I don’t remember the steeple in the late 40’s or early 50’s, but the
    cub & boy scouts had troop meeting there.

    Like

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