Structure Type: built works - religious structures - churches

Designers: Shea and Shea, Architects (firm); Frank Thomas Shea (architect); William Dennis Shea Sr. (architect)

Dates: constructed 1899-1901, demolished 1906

1 story

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Tomales, CA


Architect Frank T. Shea (1861-1929), of the San Francisco architectural firm of Shea and Shea, designed this small parish church to replace an "Carpenter Gothic" predecessor built of redwood framing in 1860. Its dedication occurred on 07/30/1899, and it was completed in 1901.

Building Notes

An article appeared in the Marin County Tocsin newspaper on 07/29/1901 that described the church: "The corner stone of the Church of the Assumption of Tomales...will be laid with all due pomp and ceremonies tomorrow at 12 o’clock.... The building is to be constructed entirely of stone, the foundation of Rocky Canyon basalt below ground, above ground the walls of San Rafael blue sandstone from the Hotaling quarry. Window and door opening and gables will be trimmed with yellow sandstone from quarries near Tomales. The roof will be of slate or tile and the entire interior construction and ornamentation will be of natural wood." (See Laurie Thompson, Marin County Free Library, "Tomales Church: A Symphony of Stone," written 06/25/2015, accessed 11/18/2016.) The church had a Romanesque appearance, with rounded arches, tiled roof, and a prominent corner campanile, typical of Italian Romanesque precedents. The rustic boulders making up its walls would have been viewed as being appropriate to a small, rural church commission.


Constructed of load-bearing masonry, the church did not fare well in the devastating San Francisco Earthquake of 04/18/2016; walls of stone completely collapsed, causing parishioners to go back to their still-standing original building constructed of more flexible redwood framing.

PCAD id: 20746