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San Francisco Landmark 2: Old Saint Mary’s Church
Chinatown and Old Saint Mary's Church

  Son, Observe the Time and Fly from Evil. Ecclesiasticus 4:23
Son, Observe the Time and Fly from Evil. Ecclesiasticus 4:23
4 January 2004
(Click Photos to Zoom)

Landmark 2
Old Saint Mary's Church
660 California Street at Grant
Financial District
Built 1854
Rebuilt 1909

The following is paraphrased from Wikipedia.

The Old Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception is a proto-cathedral and parish of the Roman Catholic Church.

Built in 1854 for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, it was the first church in California expressly built as a cathedral.

In 1891, it was demoted to parish church when the new Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption at Van Ness Avenue and O'Farrell Street was ordained to accommodate the growing Roman Catholic flock.

Old St. Mary's survived the 1906 Earthquake, only to be gutted a day later by fire. The fires were so hot that they melted the church bells and marble altar sparing only the exterior brick walls and the bell tower. The renovation of the church was completed in 1909.

Under the clock appear the words: "Son, Observe the Time and Fly from Evil" (Ecclesiasticus 4:23), aimed at the men who frequented the surrounding brothels in the 1850s.

Old St. Mary's remains an active parish serving Chinatown and Nob Hill. The Paulist Fathers have served the church since 1901.

Old Saint Mary's Church is also California Landmark 810.
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