St. Vincent de Paul Church (Baltimore, Maryland)
St. Vincent De Paul Roman Catholic Church
|Location||120 N. Front St., Baltimore, Maryland|
|Area||less than one acre|
|Architect||Gildea, Father John Baptist|
|NRHP Reference #||74002215|
|Added to NRHP||February 12, 1974|
The church was dedicated in 1841 and is "the oldest Catholic parish church in continuous use in Baltimore."
The history of St. Vincent is entwined with the history of Baltimore itself. It was founded in 1840 by Irish workers who were building the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. Fr. John Baptist Gildea was the first pastor when the building was opened in 1841 to parishioners. The Irish immigrants working on these landmarks were a large part of the Catholic community, though membership included those from all social ranks, even slaves. It was the fifth Roman Catholic church constructed in Baltimore, and was built to serve the ever increasing, wealthy, English-speaking Catholics in the Gay and Pratt Street area. In 1875, the church was consecrated by Archbishop James Gibbons, one of four churches so recognized in America, which placed it under the direct protection of the Holy See. The parish’s most famous son was James Cardinal Gibbons (1834-1921).
In the 1960s the church was actively involved in movements against the Vietnam War and social changes which helped to attract young activists to the parish and its causes. The church and its members are very proud of the wide variety of backgrounds and cultures that have accumulated over their long and diverse history. St. Vincent is still a growing and active church in 2007. The current pastor is Father Richard T. Lawrence.
The church building itself is neoclassical style with brick walls painted white to give it the appearance of wood. Inside there are cast iron columns for support. While the interior has been remodeled several times, the exterior of the church has never been altered.
The church features a slender Georgian-style brick tower, painted white, which rises to a height of 150 feet above the narthex and contrasts sharply with its surroundings. The tower rests on an octagonal base and supports three successive indented tiers (one octagonal and two cylindrical), capped by a copper-sheathed dome and twelve-foot cross.
Besides holding masses for church members, St. Vincent is active in local Baltimore communities in many ways, providing a clothes closet and food pantry, as well as a program called "Friday Hot Meals" in which volunteers serve hot dinners to local homeless persons. The church also offers a wide variety of religious education opportunities for children, teenagers, and adults including classes, retreats, camps, workshops, and discussion groups. St Vincent is also involved in local housing needs including replacing public housing projects with row homes for families.The parish of Saint Vincent de Paul allow homeless persons to set up camp on their side yard. The most recent project is located on Pratt Street. St. Vincent was an active participant in developing the Heritage Walk, a Baltimore project, and is one of the stops on the tour. Besides being involved in local communities of Baltimore, St. Vincent also has two sisters parishes that they work to help. One is located in Nicaragua and the other in Lithuania.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- St. Vincent de Paul church Baltimore, Maryland
- "Maryland Historical Trust". St. Vincent De Paul Roman Catholic Church, Baltimore City. Maryland Historical Trust. 2008-11-21.
- Engineer’s Guide to Baltimore: St. Vincent de Paul church
- St. Vincent de Paul church
- St. Vincent De Paul Roman Catholic Church, Baltimore City, including undated photo, at Maryland Historical Trust
- St. Vincent de Paul Church, Baltimore, Maryland official website
- Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore