ST. MATTHEW • SAN MATEO SERVING THE AUBURN COMMUNITY SINCE 1895
As Euro-American pioneers moved to the Northwest, specifically the White River valley region in search of new opportunities and a better life, a number of Euro-American settlers incorporated the town of Slaughter in 1891, near the rail line the Northern Pacific Railroad had placed in 1883. The town name honored Lt. William Slaughter who died as a result of an ambush in the Indian conflicts of 1855. The town name was changed to Auburn in 1893.
In 1895 a number of Euro-American Episcopalian pioneers that had settled in the newly incorporated town founded St. Matthew Episcopal Church (today St. Matthew – San Mateo). In its beginning the Episcopalians gathered for Mass in the Grand Army of the Republic Hall. The congregation church building was subsequently built on the NE corner of 1st Av. and A St. across from City Hall. The Mission congregation slowly grew and had visiting clergy until 1918. It is said that in 1939 the parish experienced a new phase in its growth; the budget for that year was $449.95 of which the priest stipend was $120.00. In 1949 the first resident priest arrived, the Rev. George Ziegler.
St. Matthew having been originally located near the train tracks was for over 50 years known as the “noisy church” by its members – at times during mass the singing was not loud enough due to the train noise. During a summer day in 1959 St. Matthew was a “traveling church”; the church building was physically moved from downtown Auburn to the present location at 123 L Street NE. In 1965 St. Matthew was a “shaking church” as a result of an earthquake. Unfortunately, because of structural damage, following the earthquake the original wooden frame church building had to be demolished. Since the wooden frame building was demolished until the new building in use today was inaugurated in Easter of 1999 the parishioners worshiped in the parish hall.
Today if you visit the St. Matthew – San Mateo church facilities you will be able to admire the original altar, possibly over a century old, the original old stained-glass church windows now placed in the parish hall and the restored Hook and Hastings pipe organ built in 1871. The original home of the pipe organ was the Chestnut Hill Presbyterian Church in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, then transferred to Christ Lutheran Church in Camden, New Jersey, until it found its new home at St. Matthew – San Mateo. Finally, three times a year a visitor can enjoy the Auburn Chamber Orchestra (part of the Auburn Symphony) performing during a Sunday afternoon concert as the building acoustics provide for the enjoyment of great music.