Parish History

The church was built in 1859, just before the American Civil War, for the German congregation in the city’s Mt. Adams neighborhood. Archbishop John Baptist Purcell decided to build the church while praying during a severe storm at sea. He promised God that if he survived, he would build a church on the city’s highest point.

The nearby Holy Cross parish primarily served Irish immigrants. When the Holy Cross monastery closed in 1977, the parishioners joined with Immaculata to become the Holy Cross–Immaculata parish. The Mt. Adams Preservation Association raised enough funds to commission the restoration of seven paintings by Johann Schmitt. The paintings were mounted over the main altar and side altars between 1863 and 1870.  A painted scroll stretches above the main altar across a depiction of the Immaculate Conception. In German, it reads: O Maria, ohne Suende empfangen, bitte fuer die Bekehrung dieses Landes, Amerika. (O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for the conversion of this country, America.)

On December 29, 1978, the Immaculate Conception Church, School, and Rectory was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The school and rectory have since been closed.

In August 2005, workmen began chipping out bricks and glass block where a rose window once stood. The original had been lost in a storm. The new window came from Saint Bonaventure Church, which was closed and torn down in 2003. Fr. Neiheisel and Holy Cross Immaculata pastoral assistant Bill Frantz salvaged a colorful, round, stained-glass rose window that had stood over the altar. Neiheisel then raised $44,000 to have the window reinforced, enlarged with an 18-inch ring of additional glass, and ultimately set into the Holy Cross-Immaculata wall behind a layer of strong, protective glass.

Read more about the history of Holy Cross-Immaculata including articles on the origin of our school, our special masses and celebrations and the traditional, Praying of the Steps by viewing the parish timeline click here.

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