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St. Mary's Church, Convent, and School and Benedictine Priory and Gymnasium

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1852–1853 church, Ignatius Garner; 1934 convent; 1951 St. Mary's Catholic Middle School. 300 block Church St. 1889–1890 priory and 1902 gymnasium. 144 Church St.

The Benedictine monks who came to St. Mary's in 1850 built a Romanesque Revival sandstone church terraced above Church Street, with a clock tower and steeple above the entrance. Although the church has been altered, it dominates the complex with the large, three-story buff brick convent and St. Mary's Middle School attached on either side to accommodate the county's harsh winters. Less than a mile to the northwest, the Benedictine monks built a three-story stone monastery (1870; 763 Johnsonburg Road) that was replaced within two decades by the priory on Church Street and now serves as the Elk Regional Health Center.

Although the Benedictine St. Joseph's monastery is historically more important, the Benedictine priory of 1889–1890 and its gymnasium of 1902 to the east have more of their original fabric intact. The red brick, three-story Italianate priory houses Benedictine priests who serve both the St. Mary's and Sacred Heart parishes. German was spoken in the hallways and classrooms of the complex until World War I, when anti-German sentiment caused the German American population to drop the language in public discourse.

Writing Credits

Lu Donnelly et al.


What's Nearby


Lu Donnelly et al., "St. Mary's Church, Convent, and School and Benedictine Priory and Gymnasium", [St. Marys, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 1

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, Lu Donnelly, H. David Brumble IV, and Franklin Toker. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010, 444-445.

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