St. Charles Catholic Church sold to Paw Paw Mayor
St. Charles Catholic Church in Paw Paw was sold last October to Paw Paw Mayor Julie Kidwell. Kidwell wanted to preserve the historic landmark. She plans to turn the church building into a small wedding chapel and a photo and crafts gallery.
The church has stood vacant since its last service on Father's Day in June, 1995. According to the book "Morgan County and Its People," St. Charles Catholic Church was dedicated in August, 1877 by Reverend Charles VanQuckelberge, said Kidwell. Reverend Joseph Frieli attended the church in 1876 before its dedication, she said.
Kidwell loved the old church building and didn't want to see it torn down. Sealed bids were taken on the church in September. Kidwell had the highest bid at the sale and bought the church for $12,336. She closed on the building in October.
Paw Paw has lost a lot of landmarks in town, Kidwell said. She thought the Catholic Church should be kept intact and wanted to preserve its structure.
The former church building has a tin ceiling and wall panels that are decorated with imprinted patterns. The old church bell still works, she said. Kidwell rang the bell on New Year's Eve.
St. Charles Catholic Church was sold to the Methodist Church for a dollar some years back, said Kidwell. They were going to build a recreation center there but the building had no plumbing, she said. Plans to pursue the recreation center were abandoned because the renovations would have been too costly, said Kidwell.
St. Charles Catholic Church had a circuit priest with services once a month, but the congregation had dwindled to just a few families before it closed in 1995, said Kidwell.
St. Charles Catholic Church was formerly a mission of St. Anthony's Church in Ridgeley, West Virginia, said former parishioner Ann Norton. The priest would come once a month for services.
Some families moved in from Elizabeth, New Jersey when the Keystone Tanning and Brewery plant opened in Paw Paw and the priest came once a week, said Norton. There were at least 10 families that belonged to St. Charles Catholic Church after the plant closed around 1951, she said.
The first priest she recalled was Father Robert Kilcannon, who was at the church for 25 years. At one point, the diocese for the church changed and St. Charles Catholic Church became a mission of St. Vincent De Paul in Berkeley Springs. The last priest to travel there for Mass services was Father Albert Anselmi from Berkeley Springs, she said.
Norton, who is 86-years-old, received her first communion and confirmation at St. Charles Catholic Church and was also married there. She remembered the church being filled in
the summer when campers came to services during
the summer. Norton said she really enjoyed going to church there.
"It was a nice church," she said.