Many churches in the Rust Belt region of the United States were built as a result of the development of domestic steel mills in the early 20th century. And many were closed with the collapse of the steel industry.
The Slovaks who had migrated to the Pittsburgh region often worked as laborers at the many mills that lined the Ohio, Monongahela and Allegheny rivers. It was their mass immigration to the region that the Slovakian population started a church in Homestead in 1896, and that led to the formation of the St. Michael parish in 1897. Many of the worshippers tendered to the Homestead Steel Works of the Carnegie Steel Company, which at one point employed 15,000.
The growth in the city’s population eventually led to the construction of a massive all-brick church in Munhall 1927.
But much as the growth of the Homestead Steel Works fueled St. Michael’s rise, its decline was tethered to the downsizing of the steel industry. As early as 1967, the congregation began to contract. The Homestead Steel Works closed in 1986 during a prolonged slump in the steel industry. By the 1990’s, Munhall could not support its numerous churches, and the decision was made to merge St. Michael with five other parishes to form St. Maximilian Kolbe parish in 1992. St. Michael Church continued to operate, along with three other church buildings, but mounting expenses and a dwindling congregation forced the parish to close three buildings. The final mass at St. Michael Church was held on October 25, 2009, and it was officially closed on November 1.
The rectory, convent and Parochial School were sold to developer Walter Viola in 2012, who proposed rehabilitating the premises for commercial and residential uses. Some residents initially rebuffed his efforts at the renovations, although the proposals were ultimately accepted instead of the church being abandoned.
Today, the church is home to This is Red, an advertising agency.