Fire destroys historic Youngstown church - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Fire destroys historic Youngstown church

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Courtesy: St. Mary's Byzantine Catholic Church Courtesy: St. Mary's Byzantine Catholic Church

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Demolition crews are finishing what an arsonist started at an historic church on Youngstown's west side Monday.

Investigators say someone set a fire before 4 a.m. at the former St. Mary's  Byzantine Rite Church at Salt Springs Road and Florence Avenue.

The blaze gutted the brick building which was already on the city's demolition list.

The church has been abandoned since 1960 when the  parish moved to its current location on Belle Vista Avenue, also on Youngstown's west side.

Fire destroyed the church.  However current pastor, Father Richard Lambert tells 21 news that the church recently acquired the cross that once perched on top of the old building.

Father Lambert says the cross is in storage but the church has plans to display it as a memorial.

According to church history, St. Mary's was the first church of the Byzantine Rite in the Mahoning Valley. 

The church was originally a wooden building when it was dedicated in 1900.  A brick exterior was added in 1946.

The parish was first formed by a Greek Catholic Congregation whose members were mostly employed by the local steel industry at the turn of the century. Members of St. Mary's who belonged to various ethnic groups eventually went on to form their own churches around the valley. 

Father Lambert says he was an altar server at the former church, and some members who go to the current church also attended mass at the former St. Mary's.

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