HISTORY OF ST. PETER’S PARISH
The need for a Catholic church in the Midlands became apparent with the infusion of Irish workers, a cheap source of labor, brought here to dig the Columbia canals. Bishop John England sent an Irish born priest, Fr. James Wallace, to minister to the Catholics here, with the hopes of establishing a church with consecrated ground for a cemetery. In 1824 the cornerstone for the first church designed by architect Robert Mills was laid. Since this was the only church in the Midlands, St. Peter’s became known as the “Mother Church of the Midlands”.
The parish continued to grow, and under the leadership of Fr. Thomas J. Hegarty, the old church was razed and a new larger church was built on the same site. Frank P. Milburn, designer of the state capitol dome, was chosen as architect of the new church built in Gothic Revival style. In keeping with the European tradition of burial inside churches, Fr. Hegarty’s body was interred in a memorial alcove within.
St. Peter’s continues to be a vibrant, diverse parish dedicated to serving the needs of Catholics within the Midlands.
Fifty minute tours of St. Peter’s historic church are available upon request.
These tours include information on parish history, symbolism and features within the church related to Catholic doctrine, and information and history of the stained glass windows located throughout the structure. Tours are available for individuals or groups. These tours can be arranged by calling the church office or contacting Sharon Ewing (Sharonewing48@gmail.com).