Dec. 5, 1952: Since it closed in 2004, St. Nicholas Church has been an empty, dark shell pressed hard against one of the area’s busiest roads, Route 28. But for decades, the building served as a place for a community to gather for worship, to celebrate its happy times and, as was the case in December of 1952, to mourn in the wake of tragedy.
Constructed in 1900, St. Nicholas is the first Croatian church in America, and served new immigrants recruited to work in the area’s steel mills and factories. Preservationists want to save the structure, but St. Nicholas Parish says it’s being crippled by maintenance costs at its former church. The building’s fate is being appealed in court.
On a cold, rainy day 60 years ago, St. Nicholas served as a house of mourning as a shocked and saddened community passed through its doors to grieve the six children who died when a gas explosion destroyed their home, located just down the street from the church.
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