Basilica, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1920s Print
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Nice view of the Basilica at 16th and Hennepin in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, from the 1920s.
The Basilica of Saint Mary replaced a previous church, the Church of the Immaculate Conception. It was originally built in 1871, located at 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue North, but the expanding warehouse district was engulfing the church property. Archbishop John Ireland announced plans for a new Church of the Immaculate Conception on Christmas Day, 1903. In 1905, Lawrence S. Donaldson donated a one-block parcel on Hennepin Avenue near Loring Park for the new church buildings. The design was awarded to Franco-American architect Emmanuel Louis Masqueray, the designer of the Cathedral of Saint Paul. Masqueray designed it in a Beaux-Arts style. The groundbreaking was held on August 7, 1907, with foundation construction continuing through May 1908. The cornerstone was laid on May 31, 1908, with a ceremony involving 30,000 Catholics, twenty bishops, 300 priests and seminarians from the Saint Paul Seminary, and 500 cadets from the College of Saint Thomas. As construction on the Basilica and the St. Paul Cathedral progressed, Masqueray's architectural genius attracted attention. American Architect magazine commented, "The two Catholic Cathedrals will be -- when completed, noteworthy achievements in church building for any period; in extent and splendor they promise to surpass anything yet attempted in ecclesiastical work in the United States." Civic dedication of the church took place on November 4, 1913, and the church was informally opened on May 31, 1914. It was informally referred to as the Pro-Cathedral of the archdiocese from its beginning, but the parish was still officially named the Church of the Immaculate Conception until September 21, 1921. It was formally named the Procathedral of Saint Mary at that time. Although the building was open for worship in 1914, the interior decoration, windows, and plaster work were not completed until 1925. It was established as a minor basilica by Pope Pius XI in 1926, making it the first basilica in the United States.
Image courtesy of LakesnWoods.com.