Authored by Karen Beverly
Website Created by Lisa Brigandi, Jill Moretto & Meghan Tucker
This website seeks to preserve the history of Old St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco, California. Once destroyed in a fire following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the Old St. Mary’s Cathedral was completely restored and rebuilt by 1909, ultimately allowing the church to overcome an unfortunate situation and remain able to continue their Paulist mission. The documents presented on this website are divided into four categories: the history of the Old St. Mary’s Church, what the church was like before the earthquake struck, the aftermath of the earthquake, and the restored St. Mary’s Church. The presentation of these documents allows viewers to see all of the changes that the Old St. Mary’s Church endured as well as the church’s strong and persevering Paulist mission.
The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 destroyed many prominent buildings and institutions due to the fact that numerous fires spread because of the earthquake’s aftershock. Sadly, the Old St. Mary’s Church was one of these buildings. Pictured left is a photograph of the church taken on June 5, 1906, just about two months after the earthquake initially hit. As made evident by the photo, all that remained of the building was the outer walls and bell tower, essentially a skeleton of the church that once stood. In addition to the destruction of the actual church itself, the community also deteriorated due to the fact that hundreds of people had died in the disaster and many had lost their homes. But despite of the tragedy that stuck them, the Paulists still went on to hold services for the people in the attached Paulist house, hoping to be a glimmer of hope in a great time of need. This strong sense of hope allowed the Paulists to get past such a hard time and ultimately find the strength to rebuild such an important establishment. The presentation of these documents ultimately serves to show how the community overcame such a terrible tragedy and to show how people of the time tried to overcome disaster by faith and spirituality.
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