There have been 9 buildings/facilities associated with SFDS Church over the 150 years. First, the original church and rectory 1866, has a storied history as one of the oldest church buildings in Harford County Md. The Parish started as four acres on west side of road leading from Abingdon to Bel Air at top of a hill, thus the name “Little Church on the Hill”, donated by William Pannell and wife, non-catholics Oct 31, 1865, built by Fr. O’Conner from St Ignatius. The cornerstone was laid on July 9, 1866. George Lochery of St. Ignatius supervised the painstaking cutting and fitting of local stone by men of the SFDS. He also gave $600 toward church’s total $4000 construction costs. The total capacity was 100 persons. A Rectory similar to St Mary’s Pylesville was built in1879 for traveling priests. The original church added the bell tower in 1887, made with stone quarried from nearby Harford Furnace transported by horse and wagon. The Bell donated by Margaret Lynch. Stain glass windows were added in 1899 as well as an ornate marble alter. The confessional made of stone was added by Fr. Fitzgerald in 1938. The Organ was installed in the choir loft in 1955. It became a chapel for weddings & funerals in 1980’s. A renovated “ Stone Chapel” was rededicated in 2001.
In 1957, Monsignor Healy purchased 2 acres adjoining the right side of church and the Arthur Magness family donated 6 1/2 acres in 1966. 1967, Mr Peverly sold SFDS five acres expanding property to present total of 16.32 acres. In the 1960s, new rectory was needed and too costly, so a trailer served as Pastor Wolfe’s rectory. Two decommissioned Quonset huts were purchased from Naval Academy for $50, transported from Annapolis in a beer truck and reassembled to form the shell of a first 20 by 100 foot hall to serve as much needed meeting space. Since the congregation had grown, Fr. Wolfe built a multi-purpose parish center building, cost $205,000. Kilduff Hall (named for Eugene Kilduff, a Pillar & Patriarch of St. Francis) opened in 1971 and was blessed in 1972 by Cardinal Sheehan. It served as Mass site for 500 persons, parish office, meeting and CCD classrooms and living space for the pastor.
There is more expansion to come. KC Hall, New Rectory, Worship Center and Michael Schleupner Education Center deserve a future column. REMEMBER WE ARE ST FRANCIS !!!