Saint Peter's Parish History


January 14, 1998 saw the inception of 

the Parish of Saint Peter the Fisherman, 

as the result of a merger between 

St. Joseph Parish and St. Peter Parish.

In June of 2000, All Saints Mission,

Our Lady of the Assumption Mission,

and St. Anthony Church were also consolidated

into St. Peter the Fisherman Parish.


    With the coming of the B&O Railroad to the Fairmont area in June, 1852, there was an increase in the number of Catholics in the area. Mainly of Irish descent, few, however, remained after the railroads were completed. At this time, priests from surrounding areas attended to their spiritual needs. Eventually, there was a need for a permanent church for the faithful. Thus, the first Catholic church of Fairmont was established in 1856 and dedicated in the spring of 1857 to Saint Peter, the Prince of the Apostles.


January 1, 1873

    It continued as a mission church until 1873, when the first permanent pastor was appointed. The first recorded baptism at St. Peter's was recorded as January 1, 1873. The church and it's congregation remained virtually unchanged until 1883 but in 1897 plans were begun to erect a new church.



   The cornerstone for the new church was laid in the year 1902 with a sealed glass jar containing historical information about the new church being placed in a space provided in the top of the cornerstone.
   Many priests were transferred to St. Peter's and subsequently transferred to other parishes, but all faithfully used their time at St. Peter's to help expand and enhance the church and other parish properties. These years saw many changes in the parish. A residence was purchased for the Pastor; property was purchased to build a school; to provide a Catholic cemetery, and to build a rectory. Major renovations and repairs to all parish properties were completed over the years and a beautiful new Casavant pipe organ was procured for the church.
   As the Twentieth Century began, the thriving coal mines of West Virginia attracted a large group of immigrants and resulted in a multitude of Italians settling in or near Fairmont. By concentrating in the same area, not only were they close to the mines, but they allowed themselves to preserve their heritage. When it became evident that their faith needed to be reinforced in the same manner as they were accustomed to in the Old Country, plans for an Italian parish began.  In 1909, St. Joseph's Parish was established. The church was built in the center of the Italian population of Fairmont, near the Barnesville Mine.
    As Fairmont grew, many Italians moved to the East Side and a second mission church, Immaculate Conception, was built in 1931. The first baptism recorded in the parish took place February 28, 1909. During the early years of the parish there were many disappointments and difficulties which served only to increase the Italians' determination to keep building and await the day when they could point with pride to the churches they built in which they could follow the Sacred traditions of their native land. Financial difficulties over ensuing years necessitated that St. Peter's and neighboring parishes look after the spiritual needs of the people of St. Joseph's until a solution could be found. Eventually, St. Joseph's Parish was entrusted to the LaSalette Fathers and with untiring effort from the numerous priests that were sent to St. Joseph's, the parish began to thrive.
    Another setback for the church was its destruction by a fire in 1947. Fund raising saw the parish rewarded by a bigger and better church which was dedicated in September, 1949.



  South Fairmont saw the opening of another mine which attracted a number of Italians to settle in that area. To care for their spiritual needs, a mission church, St. Anthony's was erected in 1911.



   In 1964 at the direction of the Bishop, Fairmont was divided into a four-parish system. This change meant that many of the old time members of St. Peter's were absorbed by the other three churches: St. Anthony's, St. Joseph's, and Immaculate Conception, and was predicated by where the members lived in the new parish boundaries.



   Sadly, the coal mines that were responsible for creating the faith community of St. Joseph's Parish were also responsible for its final destruction. On February 27, 1997, St. Joseph's was rendered unusable because of a cave-in under the church from an old mine. 

    Although their heritage and the founding of their parishes are vastly different, the devout Catholics of St. Joseph's Parish and Mission, and St. Peter's Parish have united as one faith community to continue the good works that each parish had begun.


     In June of 2000, the former Churches in Barrackville (All Saints Mission), Grant Town (St. Anthony Parish), and Rivesville (Our Lady of the Assumption Mission)  were also closed and merged into the new St. Peter the Fisherman Parish family.  The Catholic people of each of these areas were also greatly saddened by their closings.  
   We will be developing more detailed history areas on this website for each of the former Churches that are now a part of our parish family.

Last Revised: October 28, 2014