Last month’s article noted that two Shinnston churches observe centennial anniversaries this year. In that article, the old United Brethren Church (now Otterbein UMC) was discussed; this article will pertain to The Parish of Saint Ann, more commonly known as St. Ann’s Catholic Church. For those who may not know, the patron saint of the parish, St. Ann, is traditionally known to be the mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother of our Lord Jesus Christ as well as the patron saint of miners.
The accompanying image shows Richardson Lumber & Construction Company owners Bob and Carnel Richardson (son & father, respectively) at the cornerstone laying ceremony for the present yellow brick building. The image was taken in May 1952 when construction began, but the new building was not completed until the Spring of 1953. Its completion would mark the fifth building to serve the Catholic faith in Shinnston.
Prior to establishing a place for worship in Shinnston 100 years ago, the Catholic community then had to travel to Clarksburg or Monongah in order to hear Mass. It is interesting to note that the first masses in Shinnston were held in the largest building currently in town, one known to many as the old G.C. Murphy building at the southwest corner of Pike and Bridge Streets. The structure was then housing the Shinnston Furniture & Undertaking Company and the first Catholic masses were held there in a funeral parlor. Attendance soon grew larger than the chapel could comfortably hold so Tofake Simon, a local businessman and one of the proprietors of the Rex Theatre on lower Walnut Street (now a parking lot for Casey’s Restaurant), offered the theatre as a new place to hold masses. The theatre accommodated the congregation for awhile, but parishioners soon realized the need for a permanent location dedicated to this newly formed parish within the town of Shinnston.
A committee was formed and soon found and purchased the church’s current property in the block between Maloy Court and Mahlon Street. The location then contained an old harness shop operated by Walter Hursey and also a two-story house. The harness shop was converted into a church (being the third building to house masses) and the house was used as a rectory. Both were operated as such until Richardson’s began construction of the 1952 building, which is still in use today.
During the ten months of construction for the new building, services were held in the UMWA hall along upper Charles Street, marking the fourth building to hold masses. The current church building has been added onto since this image was taken over 70 years ago. A new rectory has also been built behind the church as well as a beautiful prayer chapel, which is
open for all to come and pray. Much could be written on the establishment as well as continual service of faith since the parish was established in Shinnston in 1923. However, I decided to focus attention on the structures that housed masses in the community, which, in keeping with the column title, is the story behind the photo!