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St. Stephen's Catholic Church in August 1975.
The building is located on the southwest corner of West Park Avenue
and South Arlington Avenue in Niles, Ohio. PO1.342
Front view of St. Stephen's Catholic Church on
the corner of West Park and Arlington Streets in downtown Niles,
Stephen Church and School History in Niles Ohio.
About the middle 1800s the Industrial Revolution
showed its influence in Niles as industries
began to develop. Iron works arose and expanded rapidly and as
a result attracted many
laborers to this area. Among the newcomers was a small number
As early as 1853, the spiritual welfare of the
Niles Catholics was entrusted to the resident
priest of Dungannon, Columbiana County. Reverend Francis Stoker
was the first priest to
administer the sacraments to the few Catholic families residing
Owing to the small number of Catholic families and their poverty,
for the first ten years Mass was celebrated in private homes.
Then in the Spring of 1864, steps toward the erection of a church
were taken. Father O’Callighan purchased two lots
at the corner of Park Avenue and Mechanic Street (Arlington) and
during the same year built a small frame church placing it under
the patronage of St. Stephen. The church was very plain and of
simple structure, but it provided a permanent place of worship.
Later, from time to time, as means became available, improvements
were made to the building.
In July, 1865, the Reverend A.R. Siddley was appointed
by the Right Reverend Bishop Rappe as the first resident
pastor of St. Stephens. Shortly afterwards he built a pastoral
residence which was still occupied by priests in 1934. In February
of the following year, he purchased five acres of land for a cemetery
near to the RMI factory on the back way to Warren, Ohio. Father
Siddley was replaced by Reverend E.J. Conway, his pastorate
was short-lived lasting only three months.
In 1868, Father Rebelled, a priest with great energy,
organized a parochial school to provide the children with the
benefits of a thorough religious training. This move was met with
opposition from the parishioners who believed that they could
not afford to support the school. Soon, however, this feeling
passed and the school was continuously in charge of lay teachers
without further difficulty. Father Kelley left in May, 1871.
Between 1885 and 1888, St. Stephens parish enjoyed a steady growth.
As a result, the church became too small and provisions were made
for a larger place of worship. Father O’Brien,
in the summer of 1888, began raising funds for the new church
which Father Desmond continued with success.
The plans were drawn up for a brick church of Romanesque style
which was approved by the Diocese, foundation work began in the
fall of 1888 and completed the summer of the following year by
Father Scullin. The blessing of the cornerstone took
place Sunday, May 11, 1891. During the same year the church was
enclosed and the interior completed in time for Christmas Mass
to be celebrated in the new church. On Sunday May 8, 1892, with
solemn ceremonies, attended by a multitude of people of various
denominations, Bishop Horstmann dedicated the beautiful
When the work on the foundations for the new church commenced,
the first church had to be removed. In 1893, the old building
was transformed into a school, containing two large rooms. It
served its purpose until the new brick school was completed in
1900, during the pastorate of Father Scullin.
Up to the year 1880, the parish school was taught by lay teachers,
but in that year the Sisters
of the Humility of Mary were put in charge and since that time
have conducted it in a very
able manner with nine Sisters and one lay teacher.
At the present time (1934) the attendance in
the parish school numbers 176. As there is no parochial school
connected with the other Niles Catholic parish, which is exclusively
Italian, St. Stephens’ school also takes care of some of
the children of the sister congregation.
Mount Carmel School was
completed September 1949 with a staff of six sisters and 226 students
from K-4 grades.
Looking north along Arlington Avenue
from West State Street between 1901 and 1908.
St. Stephen's Roman Catholic Church,
St. Stephen’s School and St. Stephen Academy of Music as
they appeared in 1905. The building on the left was the Academy
Operated separately from the parish
school, the Academy had an enrollment of as many as 150 students
at one time. This site continued to serve as the residence of
the Sisters of the Humility of Mary until 1989.
All of these buildings were remodeled
in the 1920s. The school bell tower was removed in 1948.
St. Stephen’s School was torn
down in the summer of 1971. The convent was razed in 1998. PO1.1197.1
1898, a music academy was added by the sisters of the parochial
school. This music department, as the years rolled by, became
an important branch of the educational system of St. Stephens’.
From a few students in the early years, the number of pupils has
grown to over 150. This large number requires the constant time
of two sisters.
During Father McDonough’s six years as Pastor,
he enlarged the sister’s residence by adding twelve rooms
and a beautiful little chapel. Fire having destroyed the sanctuary
of the church, he was forced to rebuild it. In doing so, the church
was lengthened, increasing the capacity by one-third. The steeple,
many times struck by lightning, was made much smaller and more
St. Stephens may justly be ranked among the most active and energetic
parishes. A number of organizations are affiliated with the church.
The Niles Catholic Women’s Club with membership of over
150. The young people of the parish have the Cheliel Club to take
care of their social activities, while the Toffe Club unites the
high school students of the congregation for their social affairs.
These various organizations meet in the McKinley Theatre (formerely
located on North Main Street where Sparkle Market is today(2020),
the parish auditorium, purchased in 1928.
Note: The preceding was written in 1934. No sources have been
listed, and the author is unknown.
The interior of St. Stephen's
Catholic Church after the remodeling in 1953, the 100th year
of the founding of the parish. PO1.344
Between 1885 and 1888, St. Stephens parish
enjoyed a steady growth. As a result, the church became too
small and provisions were made for a larger place of worship.
Father O’Brien, in the summer of 1888, began
raising funds for the new church which Father Desmond
continued with success.
The plans were drawn up for a brick church of Romanesque style
which was approved by the Diocese, foundation work began in
the fall of 1888 and completed the following summer of the following
year by Father Scullin.
The blessing of the cornerstone took place Sunday, May 11, 1891.
During the same year the church was enclosed and the interior
completed in time for Christmas Mass to be celebrated in the
Another postcard view of the school
and church looking north along Arlington Avenue.
The school bell tower was removed
The Methodist Episcopal Church
is visible on the far right.
This image was taken after 1908.
Taken sometime between 1908 and
1915, this image is looking west from the Public or Commons Park,
which was located on the northeast corner of Arlington Avenue
and West Park Avenue. The park is now a part of the McKinley Memorial
St. Stephen’s Church is on
the left. The old
First Methodist Episcopal Church, pictured on the right, stood
directly across from St. Stephen’s on the northwest corner
of West Park Avenue and Arlington Street. Built in 1908, it was
razed after a fire destroyed most of the building in 1951. The
new Methodist Church was erected on North Crandon
Avenue in 1957.
The porch of the old Town Hall is
visible on the extreme right. It was demolished in 1915 to make
way for construction of the McKinley Memorial Building.
View of the east side of St. Stephen's
Catholic Church taken from behind the post office in the 1970s.
The original steeple rose much
higher above the church and was struck by lightning many times.
It was finally shortened in the mid 1920s.
The sanctuary, located on the
south side of the building, was destroyed by fire on May 29,
If one compares this photo with
the postcard images shown previously, it’s clear that
the reconstruction of the new sanctuary resulted in the church
being greatly lengthened. S11.92
The original Parish House or Rectory of St. Stephen's
Church fronted W. Park Avenue adjacent to the church which is
visible on the left-hand side of the picture. It is unclear when
this photo was taken.
The house is draped in mourning for a deceased
This structure no longer exits. The current rectory
is located further west on the southeast corner of South Chestnut
Avenue and West Park Avenue. PO1.345
Unidentified St. Stephen's priest and pupils
pose in this photo ca 1900. PO1.1664
St. Stephen's priest, Father Scullin and pupils
from Room 4 in 1903. It appears the group may be posing on the
steps leading to the northeast entrance of the school. PO1
View of a grade school classroom and children
attending St. Stephen's parochial school. PO1.1665
View of a grade school classroom and children
attending St. Stephen's parochial school. PO1.1666
First grade at St. Stephen School in Niles, Ohio
unknown date. possibly 1933. PO7.38
St. Stephen School 8th grade,
St. Stephen School 7th grade,
View of the Holy Humility of Mary Convent which
was located on the northwest corner of South Arlington Avenue
and West State Street. These nuns taught at St. Stephen's parochial
At one time this building also housed the St.
Stephen’s Academy of Music.
Though it is unclear exactly when this building
was constructed, records indicate that it was operating as St.
Stephen’s Academy as far back as 1898.
The Academy was enlarged when twelve more rooms
and an altar were added to the structure in the 1920s. Again,
compare this photo to the previous postcard images.
In June 1989, the Sisters of Humility of Mary
departed St. Stephen’s Parish after more than 100 years
of service. Sisters Mary Slick, Margaret Burgess, and
Kathryn Conry were the last remaining nuns at St. Stephen’s
and were honored with a farewell Mass and reception. PO1.2065
Their roles as teachers at St. Stephen’s
School were filled by the laity.
This image was taken before the convent was razed
in 1998. The building on the left is the new St. Stephen’s
of the Holy Humility of Mary Convent from the rear. The building
on the far right still stands on the southwest corner of South
Arlington Avenue and West State Street.
was the former home of William and Catherine Jenkins.
After the death of Mrs. Jenkins in 1961, the property was acquired
St. Stephen’s Parish..PO1.2066
View of the front entrance of the
Holy Humility of Mary Convent on South Arlington Avenue.
St. Stephen's Church on the southwest
corner of West Park Avenue and South Arlington Avenue is a red
brick building of Romanesque style. Work on the foundation began
in 1888, and the first Mass was celebrated on Christmas Day in
The new church replaced a frame
structure which had served area Catholics since 1864.
That wooden church was moved southwest
to a lot fronting the north side of Mill Street prior to the construction
of the new brick edifice. It would serve as a parochial school
until work on a new brick school was begun in 1900.
It is believed that the smaller
building pictured on the far left in the image above was one of
two other wooden structures which were also
employed as classrooms. This would date the photograph to sometime
in the 1890s.PO1.339
The original steeple of St. Stephen's
Church was struck by lightning several times, this photo shows
the damage when the steeple was struck in 1906.
Notice the difference between the
height of the original steeple(L) and the current steeple(R).
Photo taken of St. Stephen's Church
from the grounds of the McKinley Memorial in March 1975. In the
foreground is the old Civil War cannon.
The brick dwelling in the background
on the right was located at 23-25 South Chestnut Avenue. It has
since been demolished. PO1.343
View of St. Stephen's Music Academy. Built in
1900, it became the convent of the blue nuns of Humility of Mary
that taught at St. Stephen's School.
This picture was taken before the school building
was razed in 1971. SO11.95
View of the old St. Stephen's School on South
Arlington Avenue. This brick building replaced two wooden framed
structures (possibly the original St. Stephen’s Church)
which formerly served as classrooms for the parish school. Construction
began in 1900 at a cost of about $25,000. The new school was dedicated
After the opening of the new St. Stephen’s
School in 1954, this building continued to be used for various
purposes until it was finally condemned in 1968.
This picture was taken just before the building
was razed in July 1971. SO11.91
Demolition of the old St. Stephen's School building
in 1971. This area became part of the playground for the new school.
Niles Daily Times photograph
February 8, 1954
Niles Daily Times photograph
July 27, 1971
Niles Daily Times photograph
Aerial view of the downtown area
with a red oval indicating the location of St. Stephen's block.
Construction of the new St.
View of the new St. Stephen’s
School located on the northeast corner of West State Street
and South Chestnut Avenue.
The first classes were held in
there on September 8, 1954, with an enrollment of
approximately 650 pupils, grades one to eight.
In 1976, around 325 students were
enrolled, kindergarten to eighth grade. By the beginning of
the 2013/14 calendar year, enrollment had dwindled to just 88
pupils, forcing the parish to close St. Stephen’s School
for good at the end of that year.
The building was sold in 2019
and is now operated as the Niles Preparatory Academy.
School marker that was over the
main entrance of the old St. Stephen's School.
|St. Stephen School Marker
As I said in our phone conversation,
my girlfriend's mother moved into a house on Bowman Street not
long ago. Taking advantage of the nice weather, they were raking
out and weeding near the back of the house when all of a sudden
the rake struck something under the dirt. Clearing away the debris
they found this cement marker that measures about seven feet long,
twenty two and one half inches wide and three inches thick. The
house was previously owned by Robert and Alberta Ellwood.
(Mr. Elwood was Irish and would dress up as a leprechaun on St.
Patrick's Day). Story and photograph by David Gill.
The following was reported by Marci Ellwood:
It came from the old St.Stephen School when it was torn down.
..my mothe- in-law wanted it . Ernie Labruno, the school
janitor told the family there was no way in hell they could possibly
haul it away. Being "Ellwood's " they were challenged.
My husband, his brothers and uncle picked it up and put it in
back of their station wagon then took it to my mother-in-law's
to see the location of the marker on the old school.
Growth of Niles Churches —
The first pioneer families who came to Niles found themselves
in a rough, raw settlement that was struggling to survive on the
brink of a harsh frontier. Few of the amenities of the eastern
seaboard were to be found here, and the early community waited
long before it was able to provide regular !schools and organized
These first settlers were Protestants, representing many different
denominations, none of which was large enough to organize a church
congregation and establish a permanent house of worships. Small
groups of worshippers met in private homes for years, but there
was not a single organized church in Weathersfield Township until
l839. This was many years after the first church has been established
in the county, so that Niles worshippers were constrained to go
to Youngstown, Warren, or Howland to attend services they preferred.
Methodists had been assembling for services as early as l8l4 in
the home of Ebenezer Roller (Rowley?), Methodist ministers
were noted for their field work and their willingness to evangelize
in distant places. It was one such preacher, the Reverend
Samuel Lane, a circuit rider, who occasionally preached at
the Roller home. The Methodist Episcopal Church was established
in 1839 with six persons in the first class.
Local Presbyterians formed their first congregation the same year.
Some 15 to 20 persons assembled to organize a church of their
persuasion under the leadership of the Reverend William 0.
Stratton. New members continued to be attracted to the church
enabling the congregation to undertake the construction of a new
edifice costing $12, 000 in l892 The new building occupied the
southwest corner of North Main and West Church Streets
Other Protestant denominations began the organization of established
congregations soon afterward. The Disciples of Christ were organized
in 1840 and built their first church in 1843 on a lot donated
by James Heaton who did much to encourage the establishment of
religious bodies in his village. The church, a frame structure,
had a number of interesting features including two entrances on
either side of the pulpit--one for men the other for women.
The first Episcopal service was held in Niles, in November, l870.
Shortly afterward a parish was organized under the name of. "The
Church of the Advent", it later was renamed "St. Luke's
Mission" and then became St. Luke's Episcopal Church,
As early as 1868 a small congregation of Baptists were holding
their own services. It was not until 1890 however, that the Niles
Baptist Church was organized by the Reverend U. M. Eley,
who became pastor .
Two ethnic groups, the Welsh and the Hungarian both well represented
in the community, formed their own Presbyterian congregations.
The Welsh who were the more numerous, formed the Welsh Presbyterian
on the South Side. In l876 the congregation dedicated a church
building on West Second St. The congregation disbanded in 1924
and its members joined the First Presbyterian Church.
The Hungarian Presbyterian Church, a smaller congregation than
the Welsh were unable to provide their own church building until
l924 when they bought the Welsh church building. Before that time
they held services at the First Presbyterian Church.
The Rev. Stephen Csepke was its first resident pastor,
conducting services in the Hungarian language. The ethnic flavor
of the church disappeared with the rise of new generations, the
congregation was reorganized as the South Side United Presbyterian
A religious society known as the Primitive Methodist Church was
organized in l8?3 in "Russia Field". The society, the
only church of its kind in the county. represented an attempt
by a local group of iron workers to return to the principles and
practices of the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, They
built a church in l873 but the congregation disbanded some years