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HUNTINGTON, IND. (WPTA21)-The German and Irish immigrants who built the Wabash and Erie Canal in the 1830’s founded cities and towns along the way. When they got around to building Huntington, Indiana in 1838, Saint’s Peter and Paul Catholic Parish was already four years old.

So since the mid 1840’s our doors have been open welcoming the stranger, the traveler and families for many generations,” says Father Tony Steinacker.

The magnificent Saint’s Peter and Paul Catholic Church on Cherry Street, the cross on its steeple the highest point in Huntington County, was built in 1865 alongside the parish’s catholic school. For 175 years the church has ministered to the needs of its mainly German congregation, many of whom today are fifth and sixth generation members.

Someone’s great grandfather helped build the school,” says Steinacker, “and someone’s great great grandfather was the brick maker that helped make the brick that paved the streets.”

Steinacker is the most recent of fourteen priests to lead this congregation over the past 175 years. And since January he has overseen a complete renovation of the churches cavernous sanctuary as part of its 175th anniversary celebration. The sanctuary as it was built in 1865 was stunningly decorated with intricate detailing and gold highlights. Successive renovations covered over much of its beauty.

Sometimes people call things renovations other times they’re called wreckovations,” says Steinacker. “I hope that everyone sees this as a beautiful everlasting renovation of this church.”

Artisans are restoring the intricate faux marbling and gold leaf highlights painted over years ago. Walls and ceilings have been refreshed and the sanctuary’s most valuable element is also reborn. The churches very rare Tracker pipe organ has been rebuilt. On this day audiophiles are tuning its pipes. The work will be completed for a celebration concert this Sunday and on June 29th the restored sanctuary will be consecrated in a special celebratory mass launching this pillar of the community into its next 175 years of service as Huntington, Indiana’s oldest and most dignified citizen.

Eric Olson

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