There are many buildings throughout the Hazleton area that were designed by a homegrown architect. Peter Sheridan, who lived on South Laurel Street, designed many churches in the area that remain cultural and architectural monuments.
Left to Right: St. Gabriel’s (Hazleton), Our Lady of Grace (Hazleton), and St. Michael’s Byzantine Catholic Church (McAdoo).
Sheridan, a relative of revered Civil war General Philip Henry Sheridan, practiced architecture during the first half of the twentieth century. Born in Audenried in 1889, Sheridan attended the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and later opened his architectural office in the Markle Bank Building in 1918. He was a favorite architect for the Diocese of Scranton, which retained his services to design and construct uniquely composed churches in Hazleton, McAdoo, and Beaver Meadows.
One of his first completed projects was actually a monument, which was placed at Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton. In 1923, Sheridan earned the winning design for a monument to John Mitchell, former president of the United Mine Workers (Mitchell operated out of Hazleton during the Coal Strike of 1902). The Classical Revival monument still stands in Courthouse Square.
Sheridan was well-versed in many historical styles, which made his expertise especially beneficial for constructing churches. Sheridan designed many of the Byzantine Catholic structures in the area, including St. John’s Byzantine Catholic School in Hazleton (1931), St. Michael’s Byzantine Catholic Church in McAdoo (1932), and SS. Peter and Paul Byzantine Catholic Church in Beaver Meadows (1939). Sheridan preferred dark red brick with elaborate tilework for these structures, which elegantly displayed Byzantine Catholics’ ethnic identity.
Sheridan’s crowning achievement was St. Gabriel’s Roman Catholic Church, which was completed in 1925. The parish decided to construct a new church in 1922, when structural problems caused by mine subsidence weakened the church’s structure. When designing the new St. Gabriel’s, Sheridan turned to the Gothic Revival period for inspiration and looked at churches like St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. Applying 13th century French themes, Sheridan designed triple entrance portals, a central rose window, ornate bar tracery, and twin bell towers. He ensured that St. Gabriel’s would be a true homage to the cathedrals of France. Built of steel-frame, St. Gabriel’s is clad in a rock-faced pink granite ashlar from Seisholtzville, Berks County, and trimmed with Indiana limestone. It remains Hazleton’s largest and tallest church.
Sheridan’s architectural talents were later retained by the parish of St. Mary Incoranota, now known as Our Lady of Grace. He designed Our Lady of Grace to reflect its ethnic composition. Built between 1927 and 1929, Sheridan employed Italian features to the church, but used the same pink granite which was used to construct St. Gabriel’s. Our Lady of Grace reflects the Romanesque Revival style, and remains standing with limited changes to its original structure at the corner of N. Vine and W. 12th Streets.
Sheridan later closed his Hazleton office and moved to Washington, D.C. in 1941, where he worked for the federal government during World War II. He resided in Arlington, Virginia until his death.