One   such   area   was   the   vastly   expanding   city   of   Montgomery.   Montgomery,   incorporated   in   1819,   was   situated on   the   bluffs   overlooking   the   Alabama   River   and   strategically   located   in   the   heart   of   the   “Black   Belt”   area   of central Alabama.   It   was   in   this   black   belt   area   that   enormous   amounts   of   cotton   were   grown.   Montgomery,   would eventually   become   the   political,   economic   and   social   center   of   South   Central Alabama.   In   the   early   1830's   most Christian   denominations   began   to   build   their   own   churches   within   the   parameters   of   Montgomery.   By   1831,   the Catholic   population   of   Montgomery   held   its   first   public   Mass   in   a   building   near   the   Exchange   Hotel   on   what   is now   Commerce   Street.   For   the   most   part,   Catholic   activities   in   the   city   would   take   place   at   the   home   of   a   Mrs. Gardiner at the corner of Church and Molton streets. By   1833,   the   Catholic   community   has   attained   the   needed   resources   to   build   the   first   St.   Peter’s   Church.   Mr. Edward   Hanrick,   a   prominent   Catholic   in   Montgomery,   donated   land   located   at   the   intersection   of   Lawrence   and Adams   streets   to   build   the   new   church   structure.   This   site   would   remain   the   permanent   location   of   St.   Peter’s Church.   Thus   in   1834,   a   small   frame   church   was   completed   and   dedicated   by   Bishop   Portier   on April   25,   1834. Parishioners   decided   on   the   name   of   St.   Peter’s   for   this   new   parish,   deriving   the   name   from   the   famed   Apostle Peter   and   the   Mother   Church   located   in   the   eternal   city   of   Rome.   It   is   a   befitting   name,   because   in   its   long history, St. Peter’s would be the rock on which Catholicism would grow in Montgomery As   stated   earlier,   the   first   pastor   of   St.   Peter’s   was   the   cousin   of   Bishop   Portier,   The   Reverend   Gabriel   Chalon. Father   Chalon   served   the   parish   for   three   years   and   his   arduous   labor   ensured   a   strong,   though   small   Catholic presence   in   Montgomery. After   three   years   of   dedication   to   St.   Peter’s,   Chalon   was   transferred   by   Bishop   Portier to   Mobile.   After   a   promising   beginning,   St.   Peter’s   entered   a   period   of   uncertainty   by   not   having   a   resident priest.   During   this   period,   various   priests   came   to   St.   Peter’s   for   short   periods   of   time.   These   included   Fathers Mahoney,   Hackett,   and   Rampo.   Yet,   even   with   the   absence   of   a   resident   pastor,   the   parishioners   remained steadfast in their faith. The   City   of   Montgomery   also   continued   to   be   steadfast   in   its   growth.   By   the   mid   1840's   the   population   and wealth   of   the   state   was   shifting   to   the   South.   The   power   structure   of   the   region   was   determined   to   have   the   state Capital   returned   to   the   Black   Belt   region.   The   Capital   had   first   been   at   Cahaba.   Huntsville   served   as   the   seat   of government   until   the   State   House   in   Cahaba   was   completed.   However,   due   to   floods   and   epidemics   at   Cahaba, the   Capital   was   moved   to   Tuscaloosa   in   1826.   Thus   a   political   battle   was   fought   between   the   less   wealthy   small farmers of Northern Alabama and the rich plantation owners of Southern Alabama. It   would   seem   that   Montgomery   held   the   “ace   in   the   stack”   to   insure   the   capital   being   returned   to   the   southern portion   of   the   state.   Montgomery   offered   to   provide   $75,000.00   as   well   as   land   located   at   the   end   of   Dexter Avenue   if   the   state   legislature   would   move   the   Capitol   to   Montgomery.   This   offer   virtually   closed   any   debate   on the   necessity   of   raising   taxes   in   order   to   move   the   Capitol,   as   well   as   ending   the   argument   by   legislators   of Northern   Alabama   that   moving   the   Capitol   would   cost   enormous   amounts   of   money.   Finally,   in   1846,   the legislature voted to allow Montgomery to become the Capitol city of the state. (Flynt pp. 116). It   would   seem   fitting   that,   after   such   a   rewarding   asset   coming   to Montgomery,    the    parish    of    St.    Peter’s    would    receive    its    own resident   pastor   in   1850,   that   being   its   own   .   This   new   pastor   was Anthony   Dominic   Pellicer.   Father   Pellicer   led   the   parish   in   its efforts   to   build   a   new   church   edifice   on   the   corner   of   Lawrence and   Adams   Streets.   Pellicer   had   great   zeal   in   his   efforts   to   raise money   for   this   undertaking.   The   priest   went   to   Mexico   City   to raise    funds    for    the    building    project.    He    was    successful    in obtaining   funds,   but   his   stagecoach   was   attacked   by   bandits   on his   return   to   Montgomery   and   those   funds   were   lost.   Pellicer, undaunted,     traveled     to     Cuba,     where     he     was     successful     in obtaining     funds     once     again.     By     1851,     Pellicer     and     the parishioners   enough   capital   to   contract   with   a   firm   to   build   the new   church   atop   the   hill   overlooking   Montgomery.   The   Spanish   style   church   was   completed   in   1852   and   was dedicated   on   September   10,   1853   by   Bishop   Timon   of   Louisiana,   assisted   by   Bishop   Portier   of   Mobile   (Catholic Week   p.   53).   The   Spanish   facade   of   the   new   church   would   be   the   lasting   architectural   design   of   St.   Peter’s.   The question   does   arise,   "Why   in   the   middle   of   the   antebellum   South   was   a   Spanish   style   church   built?"   There   is   no bonafide   answer   to   this   question.   However,   it   could   be   surmised   that   with   the   expedition   to   Mexico   and   Cuba   to raise   funds   for   the   church,   Pellicer   derived   the   idea   for   a   Spanish   missionary   style   edifice.   Regardless   of   where the    idea    came    from,    St.    Peter’s    has    become    one    of    the    most    unique    architecturally    designed    churches    in Montgomery. Next Page

     

St Peter Parish History (Page 2)