History of Saint Margaret of Cortona Church
Columbus, Ohio

In 1921 Bishop James J. Hartley, Bishop of Columbus, gave permission to build a chapel on Trabue Road on a piece of land, which had been donated for such a purpose.

A cinder block and wood framed church was completed the following year. The parishioners contributed in different ways to the building of the church. Some were able to pledge money and work on the project, the others, who could not contribute financially, gave very generously of their time and talent in building of the church. St. Margaret of Cortona Church became a mission church, which wsas taken care of by priests who had other assignments. Fr. Thomas P. Harrington, who was the Chancellor of the Diocese, was sent to offer Mass on Sundays and to provide religious instruction to the children. He continued to serve the community until his death in 1926. The priests who have served at St. Margaret are listed below.

The church was dedicated to Saint Margaret, who was the Patron Saint of Pettorano sul Gizio, Abruzzi, Italy, from where a number of families living in the area had emigrated. The area was then called and it is still called the VILLAGE OF SAN MARGHERITA, which is the Italian name of Saint Margaret.

At the southwest corner of Trabue Road and McKinley Avenue, the Franklin County Commissioners had opened a community house. Religion classes for the children were held there, taught by Sisters of St. Francis of Stella Niagara, N. Y. , who came every Sunday from St. Vincent Orphanage. Later the children would be taught by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and the Sisters of Mercy.

Although only five miles from downtown, the community of San Margherita, with its large back yards resembling small farms with their hogs, chickens, ducks, vegetable gardens and vineyards was considered to be out in the country. This atmosphere would persist for decades. Even today, the lots along Trabue Road retain much of their original agricultural identity.

By 1936, the community center was sold so there was a need for a parish hall for various activities Under the leadership of Father Edward G. Hettinger, then assigned to St. Margaret, a parish hall was built behind the church. In June of 1955, a rectory was built under the direction of Father Ambrose S. Metzger, the first canonical pastor of St. Margaret. He moved into the rectory in January 1956.

Over the years, many people of central Ohio became aware of the St. Margaret annual festival and procession held the last weekend of July. The festival began even before the original church was completed. It was held at the corner of Trabue and Dublin Roads. Since its beginning in 1930, the festival weekend has been concluded with a Sunday morning street procession. The tradition has its roots in the Italian custom, shared by other European countries, of carrying statues of local patron saints through the streets while praying and singing. The procession continues today as a public expression of faith.

The children of St. Margaret first began attending Catholic school in 1948, when Monsignor Thomas A. Nolan, pastor of Our Lady of Victory Church, welcomed them to the parish school on Roxbury Road. The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Ky., taught there for may years. For those unable to attend Catholic school, religious instruction has been offered by the parish continuously since 1921.

Schooling for St. Margaret children at Our Lady of Victory continued until the mid 1970's when the parishes of St. Margaret, Our Lady of Victory and St. Christopher combined enrollments under the name of Trinity School. Starting with the 1979-80 school year, all the grades have been located at the former St. Christopher School, 1381 Ida Ave.

Father James W. Kulp arrived as pastor in June 1962 and, within two years, serious planning for a new church got under way. In 1966 about nine acres were purchased for $38,000.00 at 1600 North Hague Avenue. In April 1967 Bishop John J. Carberry gave permission for construction of the new church and ground was broken. The diamond-shaped church was designed by Pietro Belluschi. Brubaker-Brandt were the architects. General contractor was John Bennett of the Ohio State Construction Company.

In no small way, the church's attractiveness is drawn from the natural beauty of the rough-hewn limestone rock from the nearby quarries. The material that had drawn the immigrants to the area now drew people together to establish the parish, and created the setting for worshipping together. The new church was dedicated on October 20, 1968 by Bishop Clarence E. Elwell. For many years, the new church was used for Sunday Mass and the old church was used for daily Mass. However, continued deterioration of the old church led to its demolition in 1987.

Under the leadership of Monsignor Kulp, the growing parish also completed a new parish hall that was dedicated on May 15, 1982 and a new rectory-office building that was blessed on October 26, l986. In his 29 years of service (1962-1991) to St. Margaret, Monsignor Kulp guided it from a small community of 75 families to a modern parish of 500 families.

Father Anthony Borrelli was appointed co-pastor and administrator at St. Margaret in July 1988 and appointed pastor on July 28, 1991 upon the retirement of Msgr. Kulp. In October 1992, Father Borrelli was named Prelate of Honor to His Holiness with the title of Monsignor by Pope John Paul II, for nearly 40 years of dedication to and accomplishments in the Diocese of Columbus.

In 1993 Msgr. Borrelli formed two committees to consider the direction the parish should take to meet its present and future needs since it had again become apparent that the present parish facilities could not continue to meet the needs of the growing parish.

The parish Grounds Committee was established to advise on the best utilization of the parish property. The Feasibility Committee was directed to study the present and future needs of the parish and to recommend ways of meeting those needs. After studying the parish growth patterns, current utilization of facilities and proposed future community development and population growth for the next 10-15 years, the committee proposed both short term and long term solutions to the space problems.

By 1996, the parish had grown to 600 families and the two committees were reconvened and worked together to formulate the plans that would take St. Margaret of Cortona Parish into the next century. Parish meetings were held to inform the parishioners of the need for expanded facilities. A building committee was formed to work on the specific details of the project, to hire and architect and select a contractor. On March 9, 1997, ground was broken for the Parish Center. The first week in October 1997, the Parish Center began to be used. On December 7. 1997, the Parish Center was dedicated by Bishop James A. Griffin.

It was the vision of a few families that brought about the building of the original church. It was the vision of the families that followed them that provided for the facilities that the people of St. Margaret use today. With the addition of the Parish Center, the parish is adding on to that foundation and providing space for today and for those who will follow in the next century.