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The Church : Church History

The cornerstone for St. Mary's current church was blessed on September 10, 1876, making 1996 the 120th anniversary of this historic building.

The Gothic style church, which was designed by architect Leon Beaver of Dayton, is 185 feet in length and 85 feet wide at its widest point. The roof, which is built with large wood trusses and a vaulting interior made of alloy, is 95 feet above the floor at it's highest point.

A series of 14 gold-gray stone columns support the roof structure. The columns, exterior walls, entryways, and trim were cut from Massillon Quarry stone just north of the city of Massillon.
The building replaced a previous church building which was built in 1842 and had become too small for the growing parish. In 1868, the first steps were taken to establish a new building. By 1875, construction had begun. A crowd of 5,000 attended the 1876 cornerstone laying ceremony which was conducted in English and German.

Later, in 1878, construction would be temporarily halted during a recessional period. It resumed, though, to see the building put under roof in 1880 and blessed in August of that year. Mass was celebrated regularly in the church while construction continued. It wasn't until 1892 that the building was formally dedicated.

Not part of the original construction, new bell towers and bells were added to the church in later years. A Schantz Organ Co. pipe organ was installed in 1921 which remains in service today.

The church saw many major renovations during the 1950's and 60's including the installation of stained glass windows which depict the Mysteries of the Rosary. The famous windows are a design of Gabriel Loire of Chartres, France. In 1979, the church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The most recent changes included restoration of the organ and the interior of the church.

St. Mary's church building continues to be a source of pride for the parish family as it no doubt was 125 years ago.

(Taken from church history in the sesquicentennial parish directory written by Alice Boerner McLinden in 1989)

Black Appearance
The church's black color is not original. As is common in Massillon, years of emissions from the coal-fired blast furnaces of the steel mills have been embedded into the stone of the church and forever altered it's appearance.

Hidden From View
Very few have seen the interior of the bell towers. The southwest tower has a long winding staircase that moves along the interior walls. The lumber used to construct the staircase still has bark on it.

Have some fact to contribute?
If you know of some other interesting fact or historical note about St Mary's, feel free to submit it to us via our contact form.