St. Anthony Parish was founded in 1909 to serve the Catholic parishioners of Bessemer, a rapidly growing rural settlement that went on to achieve borough status in 1913. The initial church services were held in a hall above a local hardware store until the new St. Anthony Church opened on Oak Street in October 1911. The church, pictured here not long after it was remodeled and enlarged in 1930, catered to a mostly Slovak ethnic congregation.
The interior of the cozy St. Anthony Church c1918, which had a seating capacity of less than 200 people. By the 1950’s the congregation had outgrown this small building and the parish purchased some nearby property across Poland Avenue to build a new house of worship. Construction of the newer and much larger church, spearheaded by the Rev. F. Clifford Soisson, began in October 1958. This old church, located in what is now St. Anthony Cemetery, was razed sometime after the new church was opened for services in December 1959.
The new St. Anthony Catholic Church was dedicated on Sunday, December 4, 1959. Beginning in 1995 it began sharing a pastor with nearby St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Hillsville. In June 2000 the St. Anthony and St. Lawrence Parishes were merged to form the new Christ the King Parish, but both churches remain open and continue to serve their local communities to this day. (c1970) Full Size
The interior of the sanctuary of the new St. Anthony Catholic Church, which opened in late 1959. (1980) Full Size
The stained glass window depicting Saint Anthony of Padua viewed from inside the church. (c1970) Full Size