Founded in 1913, St. Mark’s Catholic Parish on 400 West St. in Pittsfield marks its 100 commemorative this year. St. Mark’s was an outgrowth of the mother church St. Joseph’s on North Street. Fr. Michael Leonard served as the first pastor and continued in that role until his death in 1955 at age 94. He was succeeded by Fr. Thomas Finn who served St. Mark’s for 13 years until his death in 1968. Msgr. Joseph Johnson was then appointed the third pastor and shepherded the flock for 23 years until his retirement in 1994. Shortly after Fr. Henry Dorsch became the Church’s fourth pastor. After nine years, Fr. John Salatino stepped in to become the fifth pastor of his childhood church.
The parish’s first church was on the east corner of Onota and West Streets. In 1929 the parishioners overflowed the space, and plans were put into action to build the beautiful house of worship that is now St. Mark’s Church on West Street in Pittsfield. The church was built in 1932 in Gothic style architecture; the vaulted ceilings consist of ribbing held up with pillars and arches that bear the whole weight of the building. The church was built with West Townsend granite, with floors made of Belgian and Italian marble. The interior woodwork is chestnut. The cost to build this church in 1929 was $250,000.
The spire reaches 125 feet into the sky. St. Mark, patron of the church, stands prominently above the wooden double-door entry. He is flanked by St. Peter, holding the keys of heaven, on his right and St. Paul, holding the sword of the spirit to his left . Above him, in the apex of the front façade, stands a statue of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, with his arms extended outward. “DOMUS DEI ET PORTA COELI”, translated “The House of God, and the Gateway to Heaven” is printed above the wooden doorways.
The altar and the reredos, or alter pieces, behind the altar depict the four doctors of the church St. Agustin, St. Jerome, St. Ambrose and Pope Gregory the Great, were designed and made in Florence Italy.
In 1938 the former church was renovated into the parish hall. During Fr. Finn’s pastorate in 1961, the parish hall was destroyed by fire. Soon afterwards plans for a school and parish center were formulated. This dream became a reality with the opening of a parish elementary school at Columbus Avenue extension in 1965. Fr. Finn installed stained-glass windows installed, built a parish hall behind and dedicated to Fr. Leonard.
The extraordinary Kilgen organ was installed early on and became a special feature within the beautiful stone Gothic church. This organ has been faithful maintained over the years dedicated on May 27th 1931.