St Teresa of Avila Church is a Catholic church located in Ross Township in the Perrysville Neighborhood.
History of St. Teresa
According to their website, the history of the parish stretches back to Perrysville in the 18th century. 1783 a man by the name of Casper Reel came to Allegheny County. Reel took land in Ross Township in 1794 and built a cabin for his family.
By 1815 other families had settled in Perrysville, of note were the Hilands and the Goods. It was a one-day journey from the city of Allegheny to Perrysville, so it was a logical place to build an inn.
Homes sprang up around it and by 1842 the first post office north of the Allegheny was established in Perrysville. At the time, Catholics living in Perrysville had to travel for Mass to St. Peter’s Church in Allegheny City or to St. Alphonsus in Wexford. By 1864 Bishop Domenec purchased two lots on Perry Highway for $400 to build a church. The cornerstone was laid July 4, 1866 and the new parish was named St. Teresa of Avila.
The first church building was small, seating only 200 people. Next door was built a two room rectory. In 1906, Fr. Yochum was pastor.
He heard that the Benedictines were looking for a site for a new Motherhouse and he urged them to buy the property next to the parish, which they did. The house had six rooms and an unfinished attic. Fr. Yochum suggested that the old rectory be made into a school.
The remodeled rectory opened as St. Teresa School in October 1906, with one classroom and 32 students. Tuition was 50 cents per month. This was the only income the nuns had but the student’s families were farmers and often sent in produce and meat from the farm. Fr. Schoppol became pastor in 1918 and the school was bursting at the seams with 120 children. A building fund was started and by 1923 work began on a new yellow brick school building on Perry Highway.
This second school had four classrooms and modern conveniences like steam heat, flush toilets, drinking fountains, and a stage in the basement auditorium. In the 1920’s steady growth fostered thoughts of a new church, but these plans were put on hold due to the Great Depression.
Under the leadership of Fr. Schoppol, by the 1930’s enough money was raised to begin work on a second church, which cost $50,000. It was built between the first church and the former rectory and could seat 480 people. By the 1950’s the North Hills area was booming and the parish had 800 families. The decision was made to build a third school, which opened in 1953 and is the current building used today. A new convent for the Benedictine nuns was completed and dedicated the following year, next to the new school.