Centralia, PA was once home to people of a number of different faiths. These people built churches that served as the religious backbone of the community. Thought it was a small town, Centralia once had seven churches, demonstrating just how important faith was to its residents.
One of Centralia Pennsylvania’s lost churches is Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church. Built in 1916, it was located on East Park Street, just to the north of where the mine fire began in 1962.
Unfortunately, this put the beautiful building (seen in the picture below) square in the path of the fire. Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church was acquired by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and demolished in 1986 as part of the Centralia Mine Fire Acquisition Relocation Project.
Today nothing structurally remains of this Russian orthodox church in Centralia PA. The lot that it once occupied is overgrown with trees and shrubs. However, the church’s cemetery is still able to be seen and visited.
The SS Peter & Paul Orthodox Cemetery is located just beyond the western end of South Street, behind Saint Ignatius Cemetery. The cemetery is protected by a stone wall and beautiful wrought iron gates. It is still cared for and appears well maintained.
It is important not to confuse Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church with the last surviving church in Centralia, Pennsylvania – Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a Ukrainian Greek Catholic church.
If you plan on visiting any of the remaining religious sites in Centralia, remember to be respectful. These places hold special significance to the families who once lived in the town.