The building of St. Agnes a “little church” in Shepherdstown.
Before building the church, Mass was celebrated at Bilmeyer’s Hall (corner of German and Church Streets) in Shepherdstown, once a month.
In 1889 notices began to appear in the Register, the local paper in town, of the old foundation of the Baylors, on the property being removed, and work on the chapel progressing. in 1890 and 1891 special fund-raisers were held to ease the financial burden.
The first Mass was held March 28, 1890, when the building was finally enclosed, and it was not until April 11, 1890 that the chapel had been enclosed by a “neat paling fence”
St. Agnes was built and named in honor of a Miss Agnes Gibson, a lay person who worked “so faithfully and laboriously in raising money for its erection”. Born May 4, 1853 in Frederick Maryland, She died January 10, 1941 and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery. She taught music, Christian doctrine in Sunday School, and she directed the choir at St. Agnes.
George Hodges also contributed greatly in the building of St. Agnes. A prominent and wealthy businessman who ran a general store in Shepherdstown, he has been remembered for his help for “without his influence, St. Agnes Church would probably not been built”. He passed away in 1903 and his name is remembered in one of the stained glass windows in the church.
On June 12, 1891 the church was dedicated. It brought not only local priests, but also Bishop Vandevyer, of Richmond Virginia. High Mass was celebrated by Bishop Vandevyer and Rev. Father Wilson of Harpers Ferry. The Register gives a detailed description of who was there, how the church was decorated, the furniture within, how beautiful the alter cross was, what hymns were song and noted that “the dedication of St. Agnes Church was an epoch in the history of Shepherdstown”.
Mass at St. Agnes was celebrated at 11 a.m. every third Sunday of the month, by the pastor residing at Harpers Ferry (until 1930) and from then on the priest from Charles Town. The Catholic population continued to grow, from the record of eighty Catholics registered in town in 1891, and in 1980 a full-time pastor was installed, and additional Masses were added and held every weekend at the Church.
In 1988-1989 St. Agnes celebrated its grand centennial. Celebrated from August 21, 1988 through August 27, 1989 the year long celebration contained picnics, special presentations at the church, as well as special prayer services and music. The material for this biography was gleaned from a special book that was printed for the centennial, many thanks to the anonymous writer.
On July 20, 2008, St. Agnes dedicated their new church building located on S. Duke Street behind the Parish Center. The new space will enable St. Agnes Parish to continue to serve the growing needs of the surrounding community.