Iowa December 26, 2018
The Oldest Church In Iowa Dates Back To The 1860s And You Need To See It
Iowa is full of beautiful history, and if you’re on a quest to find the most storied buildings in the state, then you’ve got to head to Dubuque. Not only was Dubuque Iowa’s very first town, but it’s also home to the oldest church in Iowa, in the aptly named Cathedral district.
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St. Raphael's Parish, Iowa's oldest church, is located in Iowa's oldest town - Dubuque!
St. Raphael's Parish began in July, 1833, when a group of settlers gathered for mass. Since there was no church building, the parish members met in each others homes for mass. The plans began to come together for a church building, but it would be years before they were realized. For a few years, a local log cabin was the meetinghouse.
In 1835, the parish was reorganized and dedicated to the Archangel Raphael. A stone church building was constructed to be a permanent home for the parish.
The stone church served the community for 25 years, and stood just south of where the current cathedral was built.
The parish outgrew the small stone building, and on July 5, 1857, the cornerstone was laid for the current church: St. Raphael's Cathedral.
The cathedral design was based on Magdalen College in Oxford, England, and is a blend of Romanesque Revival and Gothic Revival style. The first mass in the new cathedral was on Christmas Day, 1957. The Cathedral was completed a few years later, and formally dedicated on July 7, 1861.
The cathedral's pipe organ was originally built in 1890 and has been rebuilt and refurbished over the years.
The pipework is mostly out on the open, and arranged in a beautiful way. It's one of the largest organs in Dubuque, and widely considered one of the finest in Eastern Iowa.
A parish school was established in 1843, and a girls' school was built in the 1880s. The school eventually became the nun's convent 1880s. The next school was built in 1904, and that's still standing today.
St. Raphael's School closed in 1976, and the building was sold off in the mid 1980s. Today, it's a historic building in the Cathedral District of the city.
The rectory, just north of the Cathedral, was built in the 1870s. which is adjacent to the cathedral on the north, was built around 1870. The three-story brick dwelling is considered the finest example of the I
The cathedral church, rectory, former convent, and former parochial school building are each contributing properties to the Cathedral Historic District, and they have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The rectory is considered one of the finest examples of Italianate style in the entire city of Dubuque.
Have you visited the oldest church in Iowa? If not, make it a point to step inside when you’re in town! There are so many reasons to visit Dubuque including the fact that
You Can Ride The World’s Shortest And Steepest Scenic Railway Right Here In Iowa!