History of St. Margaret Mary

SMM basement church

Mass was celebrated in the basement of the school

The parish of Saint Margaret Mary was established in 1946, with the first mass celebrated with Reverend John Phelan on January 14, in the basement of the administration building at Glenwood Hills Hospital. After World War II, this area that surrounds the church was just opening up to returning service personnel and their families with the Glenwood Terrace and McNair Manor (hence nearby Manor Park) housing developments. Several photos still exist from that inaugural Mass. Most notable is the fact that the basement church at that time was a stand-alone building in what is now the school cafeteria. The basement church was dedicated on January 12, 1948. The building that currently serves as the church was dedicated in 1959. It was supposed to be the school gym until a permanent structure was built on the top of the basement of the school cafeteria. The school building itself was opened in September of 1953, for grades 1-5. Additional classrooms were added in 1959, to the west side of the original building that expanded the enrollment up to grades 8. The school added kindergarten in 1973. Enrollment peaked in 1965/66 with 720 students and then dwindled down to 183. The parish grade school was closed in 1995. That space is currently occupied by a charter school, LoveWorks Academy.

SMM countryside

In the early days, St Margaret Mary’s neighbors were farmers.

A photo taken from the church steps that day, looking out at Zenith Avenue shows the existing neighborhood. Across the street was the newly built rectory house with the church office in the basement at 2300 Zenith Avenue N. (That house was sold when the current Parish Center was built across the street). The initial convent was the house located at 1929 Glenwood Parkway (circa 1938) prior to the building of the convent (built 1956) that is now vacant and is located just west of the Parish Center. It should also be noted that only a handful of neighboring homes existed and there was even a barn building on Vista Drive that remained there for many years. In fact, a parish school kid up the hill on Manor Drive kept a horse with a Dutch door for the horse stall attached to the alley garage that was still visible into the 1960’s.

Currently Reverend Thomas Rayar is the pastor of The Church of St. Margaret Mary.