AKA: Roman Catholic Cathedral of San Francisco #2, Western Addtition, San Francisco, CA

Structure Type: built works - religious structures - cathedrals

Designers: Egan and Prindeville, Architects (firm); James J. Egan (architect); Charles H. Prindeville

Dates: constructed 1888-1891

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O'Farrell Street
San Francisco, CA

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This second Roman Catholic Cathedral was located on the corner of O'Farrell and Van Ness Avenue.


The first Catholic Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception was established in 1853, by the new Spanish Archbishop Jospeh Sadoc Alemany, who moved the archdiocese from Monterey to San Francisco in that year. This first facility operated as the center of Catholicism in the city for nearly 30 years; by 1881, however, the neighborhood surrounding "Old Saint Mary's" had deteriorated, spurring Alemany to seek another, safer location for his administrative center. Alemany purchased a property on the corner of O'Farrell Street and Van Ness Avenue, and left it to his successor, the Canadian-born Patrick William Riordan (1841-1914), to lead the construction of the second cathedral. Riordan, who was raised in Chicago, IL, and, between 1871 and 1883, presided over Saint James Parish there, served as Alemany's assistant for one year, before becoming San Francisco's second Archbishop on 12/28/1884, holding office until his death on 12/27/1914.

Building History

The Chicago firm of Egan and Prindeville designed this Roman Catholic cathedral, succeeding Old Saint Mary's located at 660 California Street in 1891. At about the same time, this firm produced the plans for two large churches in Iowa, Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport (1891) and Saint Ambrose Church (later made a cathedral in 1911) in Des Moines (1891). Egan and Prindeville would go on to design the Cathedral of St. Paul in Pittsburgh, PA, (1906).

PCAD id: 7109