St. Peter - History

St. Peter – History

Image previewSt. Peter Church was the first parish in Jefferson County.  A simple log cabin church was washed away in the flood before it could even be used.  In October of 1830, the cornerstone was laid for a more substantial church on a rocky outcrop, above the lower town.  This building was completed and dedicated in 1833.  The little church served the people of the area for many years including the Civil War, when it was the only church that was not damaged by the war.  In 1896, the church was torn apart and a new building was erected on the foundation.  This is the impressive neo-Gothic structure that exists today.

For almost 100 years this structure served as the parish church of the people of Harpers Ferry and Bolivar.  St. James in Charles Town and St. Agnes in Shepherdstown were originally both missions of St. Peter’s.

Because of the small size of the parish, the shortage of priests, and the difficult location, the decision was made in 1999 to merge the parish of St. Peter with St. James.  Bishop Schmidt established a fund to restore the building and preserve it as an important part of the history of Harpers Ferry.  The restoration has been largely completed and the historic church, now designated an historic chapel, is open on weekends and holidays for tourists.  Mass is celebrated for the benefit of tourists and area residents each Sunday at 9:30 am.  Docents in period dress conduct tours and answer questions during the peak tourist season, from May to November.  St. Peter’s is an important site for concerts and events during Olde Tyme Christmas in Harpers Ferry the first two weekends in December.