Old St. Mary's Church

Old St. Mary's Church is a parish church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati in the United States. It is located at 123 E. Thirteenth Street in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio. This Roman Catholic parish was organized in 1840 by German immigrants. Designed in the Greek Revival style by Franz Ignatz Erd, it is the second-oldest German-Catholic parish in the city and the oldest standing church in Cincinnati. The church is 142 feet long, 66 feet wide and with a steeple 170 feet tall. When built, it was the largest in the Ohio Valley. The original church was dedicated on July 3, 1842.

In 1840, German immigrants were arriving in Cincinnati at the rate of 200 per day. Many of the men donated their own labor to build the church, making the bricks by hand. The numbers of German immigrants increased in mid-century. They built a strong community, with St. Mary's at the heart of it. They also built a school and later a second school as the number of children increased.

In May through August 1849, 796 parishioners of St. Mary's died in the cholera epidemic. There were 345 funerals in July alone. The "Old" was added in 1904 when St. Mary's in Hyde Park (Cincinnati) was founded. The parish, which today draws parishioners from some 50 different zip codes, practices the rich liturgical, musical and cultural heritage of the Roman Catholic tradition. The Church offers Masses in Latin, German and English every Sunday. The Latin Mass features a Gregorian chant choir.

The parish complex includes a rectory and building that once served the parish as a Catholic girls’ grammar school. At present St. John Social Services leases the building from the parish to house several of their outreach programs for the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. The three buildings of the parish complex were listed together on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Seven years later, they were among more than two thousand Over-the-Rhine buildings listed on the Register together as a historic district, the Over-the-Rhine Historic District.

The parent parish was Holy Trinity Church (Heilige Dreieinigkeit) which was located at West Fifth Street and Barr Street/Mound Street, in Cincinnati's Old West End. Organized in 1834, Holy Trinity was the first German parish and second Roman Catholic parish in Cincinnati. The Holy Trinity Parish was closed in 1958 because of changing demographics.

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