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.


  1. I went to the "round school"! I believe I was in the first 1st grade class. My Mom graduated from the High School. Also went to Church in the future gymnasium for many years. Can't believe they demolished a beautiful building and also consolidated the other beautiful churches into a gymnasium.

  2. Does anyone know why the old church was razed?

    1. The answer is in the blog article you're commenting on: The old St. Veronica Church was razed to make room for a new St. Veronica elementary school (the round building, still standing, but no longer used as a school).