Sacred Heart Cathedral
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Sacred Heart Cathedral is one of the more striking buildings in Dodge City. Built in 1916, it was designed by Ralph Adams Cram (of Cram and Ferguson, one of the leading architecture firms at the time) in the Mission Revival style, resembling the architecture of the missions that the Spanish established throughout the Southwest. The interior features murals painted by artist George Melville Stone depicting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the Good Samaritan, the Good Sheppard, and the Angles at the Tomb. All of the murals include southwestern desert motifs, flora, and Native American figures. The church is now used as part of the Sacred Heart School; the parish merged with Our Lady of Guadalupe in 2001 to form the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Sacred Heart Cathedral was built in 1916 and is an excellent example of Mission Revival architecture.
The interior. George Melville Stone's fourth and largest painting in this church is visible behind the altar.
Backstory and Context
Sacred Heart Parish was established in 1883. The first Catholic church building, a wood-frame Gothic Revival building, was built a year earlier. Eventually, the growth of the city necessitated a larger Catholic church. Fundraising, led by Father John Handly, began in 1915 and the design process also took some time, with architects Cram and Ferguson spending 7 months on the final design plans since both the exterior and interior of the new building were planned to be detailed and ornate. Finally, the church building was completed in 1916 in the Spanish Colonial Revival style.
Bishop John Hennessy of Wichita dedicated the new church in August 1916. The "impressive and beautiful" service was a major Dodge City event. Father Handly attended, as well as twenty other priests from across western Kansas. The newspaper reported that "a large crowd gathered, including all the Catholics and many non-Catholics of Dodge City; for the most influential citizens of Dodge City are hearty sympathizers with the efforts of the Catholics to build a church."
Topeka artist George Melville Stone completed the paintings inside the church. He finished the painting of the crucifixion last. This was also the largest at 27 square feet and cost $1000, worth $27,000 today. This painting and the three smaller ones, depicting the Angels of the Resurrection, the Good Shepherd, and the Good Samaritan, took Stone two months to complete, with the crucifixion painting getting its finishing touches the day after the dedication.
In 1951, the diocese of Dodge City was established and Sacred Heart was declared a cathedral. The building still serves as an active Catholic church today and has undergone minimal alterations, remaining in good shape despite its age.
"About Us." Sacred Heart Cathedral Catholic School. Accessed November 6, 2017. http://dodgecitycathedral.com/school/about-us.
Small, Nora Pat. "Sacred Heart Cathedral." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. February 10, 1983. https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/f0fd22dc-5a05-4e1b-9b70-44615fbea420.
Photo: Ammodramus, via Wikimedia Commons
"Magnificent Sacred Heart Church is Dedicated by Bishop Hennessy." The Dodge City Daily Globe (Dodge City) August 2nd, 1916. .1.
"Paintings in New Church Wonderful." The Dodge City Globe (Dodge City) August 3rd, 1916. .7.