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Welch Churches

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Welch's Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches form a modest ecclesiastical center around Bridge Street and Virginia and Maple avenues, across Elkhorn Creek from downtown. All are compatible with their various degrees of Gothic design, and all have a similar diminutive scale. St. Luke's Episcopal, a red brick structure on the hill above Maple Street, dates from the early twentieth century. Presumably Bishop Peterkin's appeal, published in his 1902 history of the diocese of West Virginia, helped get it built: “If some pious person would send … $1,000, a nice memorial chapel could be built, treasure laid up in Heaven, and the chapel would be well cared for by the people at Welch.” St. Peter's Catholic Church, on Virginia Street, was originally a simple, rectangular structure, built in 1933 to replace an earlier church that had burned the previous year. Joe Aucellio and Luigi Rossa, local stone contractors, laid its quarry-faced sandstone walls in random ashlar. Although a cream-colored brick vestibule has been added to the facade, the original stonework is still visible above. The First United Methodist Church (Hassel T. Hicks, architect), on the southwest corner of Virginia and Bridge, was finished in 1950. The largest of the four churches, the red brick building trimmed with limestone has prominent wall buttresses flanking its arched entrance. Alex Mahood's First Presbyterian Church, at the southeast corner of Virginia and Bridge streets, dates from 1921–1922. It is the most architecturally significant of all, but quietly manages not to upstage its neighbors. Reminiscent of an English parish church, the building is neither specifically Romanesque nor Gothic, but rather unpretentiously medieval in character. It is faced with appropriately rugged, quarry-faced sandstone with smooth limestone trim. The main entrance, approached by steps from the side, is in the base of a tower that firmly anchors the corner. An addition to the church, facing Virginia Street, dates from 1959–1960.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.

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