HANCOCK - Before St. Peter's parishioners had the brick walls of its church within which to congregate, they met in each other's houses for Mass, said Richard Carrington, corresponding secretary for the church's pastoral council.
The church's history shows priests from Hagerstown and Winchester, Va., coming to large homes in Hancock in the early 1800s to 1820s to say Mass, he said.
St. Peter Catholic Church is one of two churches on East High Street celebrating its 175th anniversary this year. The other is St. Thomas' Episcopal Parish Church.
It was in 1835 that the Catholic church at 16 E. High St. opened its doors to parishioners, said Carrington, who also is corresponding secretary for the anniversary committee. The church was built by Irish Catholic immigrants who were building the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, Carrington said.
There were no labor costs because the workers built the church in their free time, Carrington said. The canal's contractor, Philip Fitzgerald, and five families - the Ryans, Baxters, Broidricks, Mc-Avoys and Littles - were principal donors for supplies to build the church, he said.