Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a Ukranian-Greek Catholic church built in 1911. It is the last remaining church in the borough of Centralia, Pennsylvania, following the town's abandonment. Spared from destruction owing to the structure's distance from the "impact zone," the church continues to hold services. The town of Centralia was the inspiration behind the survival horror classic, Silent Hill.
Backstory and Context
On August 15, 1911, the Greek Orthodox residents of Centralia formed a committee to discuss the building of their own church. The committee voted to create their own parish, dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They requested permission to build the church from Soter Ortynsky, the first Ukrainian Bishop in America. After receiving approval, the parishioners donated funds, purchased a plot of land, and hired a contractor. They dug the foundation themselves.
The cornerstone, as indicated by the Ukrainian writing on the block, was put into place the same year. Issues with the contractor, however, led to construction delays. The building was finally completed in 1912. Four years later, Reverend Peter Pontiatyshyn, administrator of the diocese, blessed the church. The parish's other properties include a house and hall on Railroad Street, a school, and a cemetery. The church itself has been partially renovated several times, including restoration work done on the interior icons and paintings.
Over the years, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish has faced several challenges. In 1916, contact with members of New York City's Russian Orthodox Mission resulted in a schism amongst some of the parish. Then, in May 1962, disaster struck in the form of an anthracite coal seam fire. The Centralia mine fire, which still burns underground, led to the town's gradual abandonment. Most of the buildings in Centralia, including six other churches, were levelled.
Today, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary continues to hold services. The town and of Centralia and its structures are notable for serving as the inspiration behind numerous books, films, and the survival horror game, Silent Hill.