St. Mary
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Saint Mary's Pro-Cathedral
320 E. Portage Avenue, Sault Ste. Marie - Chippewa County
Property Type church
Historic Use RELIGION/religious facility
Current Use RELIGION/religious facility
Style Gothic
Architect/Builder JOSEPH CONNOLLY
Narrative Description St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral is an asymmetrical, red brick, Gothic structure with a tall, spire-topped corner tower. The church has a long and narrow nave with a steeply pitched roof. The gable-roof dormers and broad aisles on either have less steeply pitched roofs. The nave terminates in a five-sided apse. The front facade has three bays formed by the aisle front, nave front, and bell tower. The aisle bay has one lancet window with polychromatic brick window head. Buttresses, constructed of red brick with limestone copings, are located on the front and side facades of the structure. Gable-roofed dormers feature a window with pentafoil mullions and a fleur-de-lis pinnacle. The bell tower is square in plan with an entrance similar to that of the central bay located in the base. Single and double pairs of lancet windows light the tower. Decorative, wood louvers cover the lancet openings to the belfry.
Statement of Significance The carefully-executed Gothic elements of St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral make it an outstanding example of nineteenth-century religious architecture as well as a symbol of the original Catholic cathedral parish of St. Mary in the Diocese of the Upper Peninsula and of Catholic activity at the Sault dating back three centuries. Father Jacques Marquette established a mission at the Sault in 1668. The first Sault mission closed in 1696, but a priest was again appointed to serve the area in 1834. A sturdy, log church was constructed near the site of the present pro-cathedral in 1836. Bishop Baraga of the newly formed Diocese of the Upper Peninsula made this church his seat when he arrived in 1854. Sault Ste. Marie proved an inconvenient site for the seat of the Diocese and in 1865, the Bishop Baraga moved to the more centrally-located Marquette. In 1878, architect Joseph Connolly of Toronto designed the current structure to replace the log St. Mary's Church. The church was completed in 1882 and remains in use for Catholic services.
Marker Name St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral
Marker Text ST. MARY'S PRO-CATHEDRAL In 1853, Pope Pius IX separated the Upper Peninsula from the Diocese of Detroit and established a vicariate apostolic. Reverend Frederic Baraga, a missionary from L'Anse, became vicar apostolic and made St. Mary's Church his headquarters. In 1857 the vicariate became a diocese, Baraga was named "Bishop of the Sault" and the log church known as St. Mary's became a cathedral. With the onset of mining, settlements sprang up in the western Upper Peninsula. Faced with the task of serving these remote parishes, Bishop Baraga obtained the pope's permission to move the seat of the diocese to Marquette. In May 1866, Baraga left St. Mary's and the parish became the pro-cathedral parish. In 1881 the present Gothic Revival-style church, designed by Joseph Connolly of Toronto, was erected.
Period of Significance 1866-1900
Significant Date(s) 1641, 1881?
Registry Type(s) 05/18/1990 Marker erected
12/27/1984 National Register listed
07/20/1989 State Register listed
Site ID# P22864