Historic Evansville

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St Mary Catholic Church

St Mary Catholic Church
St Mary Catholic Church

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605 Cherry St
Evansville, IN 47713

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1866-7 Church built
1910 Brick exterior is covered with stone


Southeast side of Cherry between 6th St and 7th St (M L King Jr Blvd)
District: Downtown
Latitude: 37.96934312479
Longitude: -87.565670013428
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Style: Gothic
Architect: Ludwick Reidinger

The church is not as decorative as many of those commonly associated with Gothic architecture, however the facade clearly demonstrates Gothic characteristics. Three large Gothic style stained glass windows are the major focal points of the exterior of the church. Underneath the windows are three Gothic arched doorways. At the top of the church stands one large tower, reinforcing the tradition that the elements of a Gothic church move upward toward heaven. The entire facade clearly points up rather than out.


With a continuous flow of German immigrants settling in the Evansville area, Bishop St. Palais acknowledged a need for a new church to service the needs of the community. At the time there were only two Catholic churches in the area - Assumption and Holy Trinity (the German speaking church), which was already very overcrowded. Therefore, St. Mary's was built to provide the German immigrants with a place to worship. The church was designed by architect Ludwick Reidinger of Lawrenceburg, Indiana, in 1866. The cornerstone was laid on October 28, 1866, and the church held its first mass December 21, 1867. The church was officially dedicated January 1, 1868 and mass was conducted in both English and German.

A two-story school was erected on the corner of Cherry and 6th in 1866 before the church was built. It probably served as a temporary chapel until construction was completed.

In 1871, the Franciscan sisters of Oldenburg, IN erected a second brick school building on the property. This three-story facility provided school rooms for female students and housed the sisters’ residence. The old school building became the boys school. (School closed in 1970.)

A two-story pastoral residence was erected 1881.

In 1910 the entire brick facade of the church was covered with concrete-simulated stone or "sham-rock".

In 1936 fire damaged much of the church and it was painted and re-frescoed. At this time the sanctuary was made larger and the choir loft was made smaller.

The stained glass windows in St. Mary's are another highlight of the interior which add to the aesthetic beauty of the church. Stained glass windows were installed in 1941 by Emil Frei studios in St. Louis. There are sixteen windows in all that tell the story of the life and death of Christ through the mystery of the rosary.

In 1989 the church was once again restored.


St Mary's is the oldest Catholic church (building) in Evansville.

In the 1895 and 1910 Sanborn maps, the church is labelled St. Marien Kirche and Schule reflecting its German ties.

See also St Mary School St Mary Convent St Mary Rectory
St. Mary's website Churches / Religion Downtown district

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