Michael Decker was working in his apple orchard when he fell from a tree, injuring his back. As a deeply religious man, he made a vow to construct and maintain this quaint country chapel if the injury would heal. He built Decker’s Chapel in 1856 and it is still maintained today. Decker’s Chapel has been called the smallest church in the U.S.A. It’s visitors book includes name from throughout the country and the world. The Chapel is located on South St. Marys Road across from Wendy’s.
The St. Joseph’s Convent is the oldest Benedictine women’s community in the United States. The Sisters served critical needs in the early years of St. Marys and continue their service today, while maintaining their monastic traditions. This convent was founded in 1852 and is the motherhouse for the Order throughout the United States. The Convent is located on Maurus Street near the intersection of Church Street.
The Benedictine priests and monks came to St. Marys in 1850. Their first home was the small wood monastery building out by where the hospital is now. In 1870, the large stone monastery that would become the hospital in 1922 was built and up to 30 monks and priests lived there. It was planned to have a college there, but never happened. The center of town had shifted away and the two churches were not close to the stone monastery, so the present monastery at the corner of Church and Maurus Streets was built in the early 1880’s. It was centrally located between two Catholic churches. Starting in the 1930’s, only the priests serving the St. Marys Church lived there. In the 1990’s, again it became the residence of all the Benedictine priests serving St. Marys.
The first houses in St. Marys were crudely made huts. There was no sawmill in town until 1846. But George Weis wanted a more substantial building for his store and home so he built this two story stone building in 1845 when the town was only three years old. The first floor served as a store while Weis and his family lived upstairs. His was the first retail establishment in St. Marys. Later in it’s history, the building passed into the hands of the Meisel family. For many years, the first floor was a funeral home. Mrs. Louise Meisel was the undertaker, one of only a few women in this trade in the state of Pennsylvania. It now serves as the offices for the Stackpole-Hall Foundation and the St. Marys Area United Way and is located in downtown St. Marys on South St. Marys Street.
In 1922, three daughters of the honorable Andrew Kaul recognized the need for a hospital to serve the area. They organized and helped finance a community fund drive to convert an empty monastery building into a modern, well-equipped, 38 bed hospital which was administered by the Sisters of the Order of St. Benedict in St. Marys for 45 years. Ownership and operation of the hospital was transferred from the religious order to the community in 1978. Structurally, there have been several major expansions. A fire gutted the entire hospital in 1934, and a temporary hospital was established at St. Joseph’s Convent. By 1941, the shell of the old monastery was once again serviceable and two new wings were added. A three-story brick structure, known as the West Wing, was built in 1960. It housed a number of new departments and increased the bed capacity to 95 beds. Since that time, numerous other buildings have been added to the hospital complex including Elk Haven, Elk County Eye Clinic, the St. Marys Ambulance Service, Pinecrest Manor, Elco Glen, and the Medical Office Building. The hospital is located on Johnsonburg Road.