History in the Hills: All Saints in the North End
I always have been fascinated by stories of the North End of Weirton. I knew that the city started there, after all, in its earliest years by Weirton Steel as a settlement to provide the necessary manpower the mill would require.
This was our version of the company town, like those one reads about in rural areas, although there was no company store nor script.
In Weirton, the company laid out streets, provided infrastructure and encouraged workers to own their own homes. A substantial investment was provided by the company to ensure that the work force had a community that they could work and live in.
With the expansion of the mills and the population, the North End became a bustling place full of shops, amenities, theaters, restaurants and the like, with the ever-present looming mill that made all of it possible just across Main Street from all of this new construction.
The North End also was the location of many of the immigrant communities that were established in the wake of the mill. Weirton Steel provided jobs to anyone willing to work despite their ethnic origins. Each immigrant group had its own gathering place that served as the center of their community and for most of them it was their church.
Below Main Street on Avenue A across from the Chios Market and the Fourth Street intersection, a group of Greek immigrants laid the cornerstone of a new church in 1916 that would be the All Saints Greek Orthodox Church.
The Greek community raised $25,000 to build their house of worship in the new community and later added a parochial school in the rear of the property for their children. The Greek immigrants in the North End were many, and a multitude of establishments owned by Greek families sprang up around the church.
A great publication that I turn to when looking at not just the Greek community in the North End, but others, too, is a book called “Memoirs of North Weirton” by John Pandelios. He was a wonderful man and someone I looked up to as a repository of Weirton’s early history.
Pandelios was born in 1916 on Avenue B in North Weirton and into his 90s could recall events and places with astonishing clarity. Working with Dennis Jones and the Weirton Museum, John put together this fascinating history of his old neighborhood. He also was a lifelong member of All Saints. It was always interesting to hear him talk about the various places he remembered in the old neighborhood.
As Weirton grew, so did the Greek community in town. By the 1940s the old church building was showing its age, and the community needed a new place that would be able to accommodate its growing congregation. The current site of the church was selected on West Street, and the cornerstone was laid in 1947, ensuring that this community, started by dedicated Greek immigrants, would last into the future.
Several months ago, I received as a gift a beautiful copy of the “2017 Centennial Album” of All Saints and included in this was a DVD copy of a film of the building of the church in the late 1940s. What struck me while watching the film was that the congregation helped build the building. Men, women, and children assisted in its construction from the ground up. And watching these folks build the building was nothing short of inspiring. According to the Centennial Album, the name “All Saints” comes from the fact each immigrant came from a different place in Greece that had its own unique patron saint. To honor all these patron saints, the name “All Saints” was chosen.
The church today still maintains connections to its early beginnings in the North End. In the building there are icons painted by one of the first pastors, the Rev. Neophitos Iosafeos. He slept in the church as he completed the beautiful icons. The original church building, too, is actually still in existence in the North End. As the Greek community built the West Street edifice, the original building was moved in 1948 and was used for the St. Peter’s A.M.E. Church on County Road, the move arranged by Sam Aria.
John Pandelios recalled that the building was transported from its location on Avenue A up the street using a tractor-trailer. Due to the steep incline, the building was dismantled in sections and rebuilt in its current location.
The Greek community in Weirton has survived more than 100 years due to the dedication of the early immigrants who came to this country seeking a better life in America. They sought to establish a church for worship and to keep their customs and culture alive in this new land.
Over the years they have contributed greatly to our community and region, and there is no doubt after looking at their history that great things are yet to come.
(Zuros is director of operations at Historic Fort Steuben and the Steubenville Visitors Center.)