The mission of The Steeples Project is to transform historic, former ethnic churches into dynamic venues within the Cambria City Cultural District.

The story of the effort to save and reuse Cambria City's three closed church buildings began in 2001, about 20 miles south of Johnstown. That year a Jennerstown church, which needed additional parking space, purchased an adjacent lot that contained the vacant former Trinity United Church of Christ. Built in 1901, Trinity was going to be demolished during its centennial year of existence until Teresa Stoughton Marafino formed 1901 Church, Inc., as a tax-exempt organization with a mission of saving this historical church for the purpose of reusing it as a tourism asset. Because the adjacent church only was interested in the land, Teresa raised enough money to physically move Trinity 400 yards to another site along U.S. Route 30, where it sits today.

After the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown closed Cambria City's three churches in 2009, a Cambria City charrette (a visioning workshop) was held in November of 2010. One of the participants was Dave Hurst, a regional heritage writer/author, who had an idea to redevelop one of the former churches into a theater and use it as the venue for an original historical drama telling Johnstown's immigrant story. Charrette organizers encouraged Dave to contact Teresa, who produces professional summer theater at Mountain Playhouse in Jennerstown. Teresa and Dave found mutual interests in producing the immigrant drama and soon determined that Teresa's 501(c)(3) corporation, 1901 Church, Inc., would be an appropriate entity for obtaining the Cambria City buildings.

In the late-fall of 2011, just prior to the acquisition of the Cambria City church buildings, the 1901 Church Board of Directors reorganized. Several Jennerstown-based board members voluntarily resigned. The board was expanded, and a number of Greater Johnstown-based board members were added.

For the current membership of the 1901 Church, Inc., Board of Directors, click here.