Discover the cultural and industrial heritage of Southwestern Pennsylvania
Nominate new places or
revise information. Click Here!

Mount St. Peter's Church

Alle-Kiski

Mount St. Peter's Church

Exterior of Mount St. Peter's InteriorSide Altar

Location Details

PHONE: 724-339-9358 724-335-9877
ADDRESS: 100 Freeport Rd
New Kensington, PA 15068
HOURS: Mass: Mon-Fri: 8:30am; Sat: 4pm; Sun: 8:30am, 10:30am; Phone Ahead for tour

Event Details

Italian Day

Description

There is a presence in Mount Saint Peter Roman Catholic Church. That’s not surprising — after all, churches are built on spiritual foundations that reach beyond the here and now. With a wide-open sanctuary that allows plenty of room for prayerful reflection, Mt. St. Peter is no exception to that rule. But there’s another presence felt in this New Kensington church, one grounded in earthly trappings.

As fate — or perhaps divine intervention — would have it, the Richard Beatty Mellon Mansion in Pittsburgh was being demolished just as Mt. St. Peter was being constructed. The year was 1941 and John Stanish, a long-time Mellon employee and friend to the New Kensington Italian community, immediately saw the connection.

Primarily through Stanish’s efforts, the mansion’s losses — marble columns and flooring, thick wooden banisters, stained-glass windows, alabaster fixtures, and cast-iron doors — became the church’s gains. It wasn’t until Monsignor Nicola Fusco brought the hearts, minds, and imaginations of his parishioners together that Mt. St. Peter truly began to take shape.

Many of the congregants had been stonemasons, carpenters, and metalsmiths in their native Italy. In their new homeland, where most found jobs in the nearby Alcoa plant, they set about using their old-country skills to make their dream a reality.

In their hands, the Mellon mansion’s porch banister was transformed into the communion rail, a chandelier was reconfigured into the baptismal font, and doors that once enclosed the library now stand guard around the confessionals.

Antonio Muto spent more than six months on his knees, painstakingly cutting and placing pieces of marble to form the intricate pattern (pictured at right) that decorates the basement floor.

Four years later, in 1945, Mt. St. Peter came into full view on the hilltop where Freeport Road and 7th Street meet. “A church should be on a hill,” Monsignor Fusco often said. “A church is some-thing people should look up to.”

A look inside this Romanesque structure, noted for its round arches and small windows, reveals an altar reminiscent of Saint Peter’s in Rome. The ceiling, adorned with angels, stands 35 feet high and features casts of the gold and blue panels that once decorated the Mellon home.

In addition to the many Mellon artifacts, there is a red Verona marble pulpit commissioned by Andrew Carnegie but left crated for years in the basement of the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, and a 19th-century painting, Behold the Lamb of God, that first graced the Vatican and then the original Heinz Chapel on Pittsburgh’s North Side.

Today, Mt. St. Peter is on the National Register of Historic Places. Eager to share its unique beginnings, the church offers tours to visitors while remaining the religious home to some 2,000 families — the sons and daughters, friends and neighbors of the people who so willingly contributed their hearts, minds, and imaginations.

Rivers of Steel enewsletter sign up

Rivers of Steel enewsletter sign up