1876: Smethport's Historic
St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church

photo credit:  Smethport 1895 Souvenir Book
Smethport's  St. Elizabeth Church in an 1898 photo by R.C. Gleason.
The church was built in 1876 and burned in 1905.


Located on the corner of Main and Franklin Street in Smethport is historic Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church

Fire of St. Elizabeth Catholic Church

Ground breaking of the new Church

The New Brick
St. Elizabeth Catholic Church

St. Elizabeth Catholic Church (rebuilt)


St. Elizabeth Catholic Church


St. Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church

The Catholic Church of Smethport was a continuation of the old mission of Instanter in Sergeant Township. Facts concerning the early church are not well established, but information indicates the first building was erected on Potato Creek near Walter DalyÝs farm. 

St. ElizabethÝs Church was founded February 15, 1868.  Through the generous donation of land at the corner of Main and Fulton Streets by John Keating and a subscription fund of $4,642 by B. D. Hamlin and Henry Hamlin and many others permitted completion of a church and parsonage in 1876.  The first pastor was Father Peter Joseph Patterson followed by Father J. J. Galligan, one of the more colorful priests to serve the church.  Born in Ireland in 1848 Father Galligan entered Allegany Seminary (now St. Bonaventure) in 1872 and was ordained in July 1877.  After assignments in Erie and Titusville, he moved to Smethport in 1880. 

On December 23, 1904, disaster struck.  An overheated furnace set the church ablaze.  The fire company was unable to save the church so they turned their attention to saving the parsonage.  The church steeple fell towards it and the wooden church was lost except chalice, vestments, linens, and candlesticks.  The Mass on Christmas Day was celebrated at 10:30 a.m. in the newly constructed Lyceum Theater at the corner of King and Mechanic Streets.  Under the direction of Father J. F. Dugan a series of many fundraisers permitted completion of a new brick church in 1907.  A catechetical and social center was built in 1955 in the basement of the church. 

The long service of the Rev. Msgr. Thomas C. Geddes brought a period of growth, peace, and renewal to its parishioners.  The parish, now under the guidance of Reverend Theodore B. Marconi, looks forward to many fruitful years.

Timeless Home:  Smethport, Pennsylvania   ©2003

2004 Update:  Father David Prenatt  is current priest.  

On April 26, 1876, the church opened it's doors to the public with a dedication ceremony by Bishop Mullin. The church's first pastor was Father Peter Joseph Patterson.  He was followed by Father J.J. Galligan in 1880.


REV. J.J. GALLIGAN Biography

REV. J.J. GALLIGAN, pastor of the church of St. Elizabeth, Smethport, is a son of James and Catherine Galligan, and was born in Ireland in 1848.  He received his early education in the parish schools of his native county (Cavan), and his training in classics at St.  Patrick's College in  County Cavan, Ireland, from which he graduated June 21, 1871, coming to America August 19, 1872.  September 1, 1872, he entered Allegany Seminary, on the Erie Railroad, west of Olean, N.Y., and was ordained a priest July 6,1877.  Father Galligan was first sent to Erie, Penn., thence to Titusville, same State, where he remained three years; then, on November 11,1880, he came to Smethport, and has here  since most worthily filled his present incumbency.
History of McKean, Elk, Cameron & Potter Counties, Penn. J.H.Beers & Company Publishers 1890


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