History of St. Michael's

As the number of Eastern European Catholics grew in the area, the Slovak community wanted a church that reflected the unique style of their culture and native tongue. Proud to be Americans, but also wanting to maintain their Slovak traditions, the community raised funds to build a church three times between 1897 and 1927.

The first St. Michael the Archangel church was a wooden structure in Homestead, PA on 3rd Ave. St. Michael’s congregation grew, and in 1903, through parish donations and gifts of land from congregation members, construction of a convent, a rectory, and a school began in Munhall, PA. In 1909 the church in Homestead was dismantled and re-erected adjoining the other parish buildings only a few blocks from its original location.

The original wooden St. Michael's church

The original wooden St. Michael's church

The Slovak Catholic community was so active in the area that by 1920, the congregation had outgrown its wooden church and plans were made to raise funds for the building of a much larger masonry church to be located on the same spot. Local architect John T. Comès, nationally renowned and respected as a designer of Roman Catholic Churches, was retained. This new building would blend with the three existing parish buildings while reflecting the unique Czechoslovakian style of architecture that combined Classic Romanesque lines with Eastern Byzantine flourishes, as well as reflecting the times by adding elements from Art Nouveau to Art Deco.

 

The cornerstone of St. Michael’s was laid in 1925 with the inscription “Ad maiorem Dei gloriam” which is still present in the sanctuary. Amazingly, funds from the congregation continued to flow throughout the Great Depression along with construction, and the new church was completed in 1938.

slav-praying.jpg

St. Michael's was rebuilt with the passion, prayers and donations of immigrants throughout the Great Depression

The brick church opened in the late 30's

The brick church opened in the late 30's

this-is-red-st-michaels-nuns.jpg

Attendance was going strong throughout the 40s and 50s, but the church noticed a significant drop in attendance as early as 1965. With a waning congregation in Homestead and Munhall, several churches were combined and St. Michael’s closed in 2009.

Mass circa 1965

Mass circa 1965

The original side altars we wood, but were thrown away to make space for the updated marble altars in the 50s

The original side altars we wood, but were thrown away to make space for the updated marble altars in the 50s

It wasn’t until 2015 when it was purchased by THIS IS RED that St. Michael’s became full of life again. There are scars left on the walls and floors of the building where images of saints, holy places and memorials were removed by the Diocese. We’ve left these as they are because they speak to the history of the building. St. Michael’s has now been repurposed with love and respect to be a creative space for THIS IS RED, music and corporate events and all those who pass through.

In 1908 there were 46 Saloons & 20 Churches in a fairly small neighborhood