Saturday, March 31, 2018

St. Veronica R. C. Church, 1904 - 2004

St. Veronica Church
Glenwood Ave. and 8th St., northeast corner
circa 1906
Good Samaritan Parish Archives

St. Veronica Roman Catholic Church was the first Catholic church built in Ambridge. Construction began in 1904, and the church dedicated in 1906. The church was located on the northeast corner of 8th St. (then called Bryden Rd.) and Glenwood Ave, on land the church's history says was formerly a Harmony Society wheat field.

Catholic mass was offered in Ambridge even before the church was built. On May 8, 1903, mass was held on the third floor of the Ambridge Savings and Trust Building, at the intersection of 5th and Merchant Sts.

Construction of the church began in late 1904, but bad weather caused work to be suspended until the following spring. The bad weather delayed progress on the building even further, because it had caused damage to some of the existing bricks, and those had to be replaced. The replacement of the bricks may explain the change in the color of the bricks near the top of the front of the church, visible in the photo above, but not as apparent in later photos.

In the meantime, attendance at Sunday mass had continued to grow, and in August 1905, Sunday masses were moved to Jenny's Hall, located above a livery stable, on the corner of 8th St. and Merchant Sts. 

As you can imagine, the location above a stable was less than pleasant, especially in the summer months, so services were moved into the still-unfinished church building on Aug. 5, 1906. At the time, not all the church windows were yet in place, and there was no furniture inside the building--but at least there were no horses sharing it.

St. Veronica Church
circa 1906

St. Veronica Church altar
Good Samaritan Parish Archives

Eventually, the parish built a rectory in 1913, a school in 1922-23, and a convent in 1926. The rectory and convent are still standing. The original school building was razed in 1970; its location is now a parking lot for Good Samaritan Parish.

"St Veronica's Church and Rectory"
circa 1913

St. Veronica Church interior
Good Samaritan Parish Archives

St. Veronica School and Convent
postmarked Aug. 27, 1929

St. Veronica parish buildings, looking west
clockwise from lower right: church, rectory, convent, school
Daily Citizen Trade Area Directory

As the parish grew, plans were made in the mid-1950s for new church and school buildings, and construction started in 1958. In 1959, after part of the first building was completed, on the corner of 7th St. and Glenwood Ave., church services temporarily moved into what was planned to eventually be the building's gymnasium, shown in photo below.

St. Veronica Church
7th St. and Glenwood Ave.
Archives & Records Center of the Diocese of Pittsburgh

It later became clear that completion of the planned new church would be too costly, and the temporary church became a permanent one. After the closing of the other four of Ambridge's Roman Catholic churches--Divine Redeemer, St. Stanislaus, Christ the King, and Holy Trinity--in 2004, St. Veronica Church was renamed Good Samaritan Church.

In 1962, the original church building was razed to make room for a new grade school building, notable for its round design. That school building still exists as Good Samaritan parish's Jericho Hall.

Razing of original St. Veronica Church
Beaver County Times
January 19, 1962

Beaver County Times caption:
OLD CHURCH RAZED -- Built when Ambridge became a borough in 1905, the old St. Veronica Catholic Church was razed Thursday to make room for a new elementary school. The St. Veronica congregation has been occupying a portion of the new school for over two years as a church.
The photo below shows the former St. Veronica Elementary School building, built where the original St. Veronica Church had been. (That's the first St. Veronica School back right; rectory back left.)

Former St. Veronica Elementary School
now Good Samaritan Church's Jericho Hall
Good Samaritan Parish Archives

When Good Samaritan Parish was created, the school became the Good Samaritan Catholic School. The school closed in 2005 because of declining enrollment and financial difficulties. Among other uses, the former school building serves as the location of the Good Samaritan Parish Archives.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

American Bridge Company office building, 1903

American Bridge Company Office
Beaver County Historical Research & Landmark Foundation archives

The photo above shows the west side of the American Bridge Company office shortly after the building was completed in 1903. The building, which was at the southwest corner of Park Rd. and 4th St., was razed in 2014.

The photo was donated to BCHRLF by the Zahn family and a copy passed on to me by Jeffrey Snedden, writer of the Beaver County Times' "Histories & Mysteries" column. Jeffrey said, "Jesse Zahn was one of the original employees of the American Bridge Co. in 1903 and retired with 47 years of service. He and his family lived in Ambridge early on, but moved to Rochester later. "

Thanks, Jeffrey!

You can see photos of the "Bridge Works" office being constructed in these other blog posts:

"The American Bridge office: Going up and coming down," February 16, 2014

"American Bridge Office building, early design," July 10, 2017