YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The heart of a once-thriving North Side neighborhood in Youngstown was demolished Thursday.
The former Saint Augustine Episcopal Church on Parmalee Avenue was built in 1921, but the congregation got its start years before — in 1907.
The building was labeled a historical site in 2008 by the Ohio Historical Society because it was the oldest African American congregation still in its original building in Youngstown.
The nearly century-old building was a staple on Youngstown’s North Side.
Church members watched it fall Thursday afternoon while they shared their memories.
“Life moves on, yeah. So I guess we gotta move with it,” said member Donna Wynn.
Wynn and Mary Ruth Hallacre stood as the former Saint Augustine Episcopal Church came down in a pile of rubble. The two best friends called it the end of an era.
“It’s like a piece of you being torn out,” Wynn said.
The building was beyond repair. The church was damaged by a flood in the basement several years ago, which led to mold in the basement.
For church members, though, it reminds them of what it gave them — a lifetime of friendship and family.
Wynn and Hallcre say they raised their families in this church, passing down the tradition.
Donna’s daughter Monica, won’t forget the impact the church had on her life.
“Just because the building is no longer here, doesn’t mean our memories go away, too,” said Monica.
She and her cousins pulled bricks from the rubble to save as mementos of the place that helped shape them.
“I’m going to miss it. Even though I have a new home church, this will always be my home church. This is our family, home church,” Monica said.
Mercy Health owns the building and plans to use the space for “future growth.” In a news release, Mercy Health said the building itself is beyond repair.