Categories: Church

The History of St. Paul

Originally, St. Paul Catholic Church was organized to serve 40 German families living in east Pilsen in 1876. Three years later, the parish purchased a large wooden building on 18th Street and Carpenter from St. Francis of Assisi Parish. That building was moved to our present location in 1880.

Parishioners wanted a school to educated their children, so in September of 1892 construction began and the school was opened a year later. The Sisters of Notre Dame served both the parish and the school. This building was built for $40,000 and was the most modern structure of the time. The church we have today took a bit longer.

Parishioners who were skilled bricklayers and masons did most of the actual construction. St. Paul became the first Gothic church in America and is known as the church without a nail. It was dedicated on June 25, 1899 but that was just the beginning. At that time, there were 4,000 parishioners and 726 children attending our school. The marble floor, pulpit, and side altar and the 2,500 square feet of mosaic art were added over the next 30 years.

The rectory was built in 1902. In the following years, bells were donated, sidewalks and entrances to the buildings were laid and the high altar and altar railing of Carrara marble were installed.

In 1970, the schools of St. Paul and Our Lady of Vilna parishes were combined. When Our Lady of Vilna closed in 1987, the students were moved to St. Paul. The Sisters of St. Casimir were serving the parish and school.

Today, St. Paul is no longer exclusively a German parish. We serve 1,200 families of many ethnic backgrounds but predominantly of Hispanic descent. Services are offered in English, Spanish and Latin.