Old St. Mary's Church (Cincinnati, Ohio)

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Old St. Mary's Church, School and Rectory
Old Saint Mary's Church (Cincinnati, Ohio) - exterior.jpg
Front of the church with its tower
Old St. Mary's Church (Cincinnati, Ohio) is located in Ohio
Old St. Mary's Church (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Old St. Mary's Church (Cincinnati, Ohio) is located in the US
Old St. Mary's Church (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Location 123 E. 13th St., Cincinnati, Ohio
Coordinates 39°6′34″N 84°30′43″W / 39.10944°N 84.51194°W / 39.10944; -84.51194Coordinates: 39°6′34″N 84°30′43″W / 39.10944°N 84.51194°W / 39.10944; -84.51194
Area 1.9 acres (0.77 ha)
Built 1841
Architect Franz Ignatz Erd
Architectural style Greek Revival, Late Victorian
Part of Over-the-Rhine Historic District (#83001985)
NRHP reference # 76001439[1]
Added to NRHP March 13, 1976

Old St. Mary's Church is a parish church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati in the United States. It is located at 123 E. Thirteenth Street in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio. This Roman Catholic parish was organized in 1840 by German immigrants, at a time of dramatic growth in the city's population.

Designed in the Greek Revival style by Franz Ignatz Erd,[2] it is the second-oldest German-Catholic parish in the city and the oldest standing church in Cincinnati. The church is 142 feet long, 66 feet wide and with a steeple 170 feet tall. When built, it was the largest church in the Ohio Valley. The original church was dedicated on July 3, 1842.[1]


In 1840, German immigrants were arriving in Cincinnati at the rate of 200 per day. Many of the men donated their own labor to build the church, making the bricks by hand.[3] The number of German immigrants increased in mid-century, with many arriving after the 1848 revolutions in various principalities. The German Catholics built a strong community, with St. Mary's at the heart of it. They also built a parish school and, later, a second school as the number of children increased. In May through August 1849, during the cholera epidemic in Cincinnati, 796 parishioners of St. Mary's died. There were 345 funerals in July.

The church nave as viewed from the loft.

The term "Old" was added to the name of this church in 1904 after St. Mary's in Hyde Park (Cincinnati) was founded.[4]

The parent parish was Holy Trinity Church (Heilige Dreieinigkeit), which was located at West Fifth Street and Barr Street/Mound Street, in Cincinnati's Old West End. Organized in 1834, Holy Trinity was the first German parish and second Roman Catholic parish in Cincinnati. The Holy Trinity Parish was closed in 1958 because of changing demographics.[4]

The three buildings of the Old St. Mary's parish complex were listed together on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.[1] Seven years later, they were among more than two thousand Over-the-Rhine buildings listed on the Register together as contributing to the Over-the-Rhine Historic DistrictHistoric District.[5]

Joseph H. Albers D.D.[6] was ordained a priest in 1916. Father Albers' first appointment was in Cincinnati as an assistant pastor at Old St. Mary's Church, School and Rectory.[7] As an armed forces chaplain in World War I, Father Albers was decorated and received the Silver Star (presumably the Citation Star which was its predecessor) for bravery and valor. Thereafter, he was assigned to establish the new Diocese of Lansing, Michigan in 1937, and was its first bishop (1937–1964).[8][9][10][11]

Current services[edit]

A Mass being celebrated at the church.

The parish, which today draws parishioners from some 50 different zip codes,[citation needed] practices a full range of the rich liturgical, musical and cultural heritage of the Roman Catholic tradition. It is the home of the Cincinnati Oratory of St. Philip Neri.[12] The Church offers Masses in Latin and English every weekday, and in Latin, German and English every Sunday. The Latin Mass sometimes features a Gregorian chant choir.

The parish complex includes a rectory and building that once served the parish as a Catholic girls’ grammar school. At present St. John Social Services leases the building from the parish to house several of their outreach programs for the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Clark, S. J. (1912). Cincinnati, the Queen City, 1788-1912, Volume 2. The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company. p. 452. Retrieved 2013-05-20. 
  3. ^ Old St. Mary's Church Official Website
  4. ^ a b "All Saints through Saint Ann". Profiles of Roman Catholic Parishes in Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Archived from the original on October 13, 2006. 
  5. ^ National Register District Address Finder, Ohio Historical Society, 2010. Accessed 2010-11-10.
  6. ^ "Photo of Most Reverend Joseph H. Albers, D.D". Good Samaritan School of Nursing, The Victorian. Cincinnati, Ohio: U.S. GenWeb project. 1930. Retrieved September 16, 2012. 
  7. ^ Parish Archives, The History of Old St. Mary Church (from the 1942 Anniversary Edition).
  8. ^ "Bishop Joseph Henry Albers, Deceased", Catholic Hierarchy.
  9. ^ New Bishops, August 1937, Time Magazine
  10. ^ PNSI 2/16 Title: Detroit Michigan Catholic - Archbishop Edward Mooney and Bishop Joseph H. Albers of Lansing 1937/0826
  11. ^ "History of the Diocese", Faith Magazine, Diocese of Lansing
  12. ^ https://www.cincinnatioratory.com/

Further reading[edit]

  • Cincinnati, a Guide to the Queen City and Its Neighbors, American Guide Series, The Weisen-Hart Press, May 1943, p. 213

External links[edit]