Saint Mary's Catholic Church
The first church services held in Sherman were under bush arbors in what is now known as Downtown Sherman. In the early 1850s, people from different parts of the United States came on foot, horseback and in wagons to attend these Protestant camp meetings held by deacons, ministers and reverends. As the years progressed, churches of several Christian denominations were erected including a Union Church for Methodists and Presbyterians in 1853, the first Church of Christ Church in 1858, the first Baptist Church in 1859, the First Presbyterian Church in 1871, and the first Catholic Church in 1875 – St. Mary’s Catholic Church .
Backstory and Context
There were many “firsts” in terms of the growth and development of religion in Sherman in the mid to late 1800s, which was largely due to the expansion and arrival of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad in Sherman and the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas (Katy) Railroad Company in Denison. From 1870 to 1880, settlement in North Texas flourished but 1872 particularly initiated a period of growth and development for Grayson County. With an increase in population from 14,387 in 1870 to 38,108 in 1880 numerous towns, the need for places of worship increased which prompted the construction of several different churches, including St. Mary’s Catholic Church2.
The first recorded mass in Sherman took place in 1872 in a hotel room. Three years later, a small wooden chapel was built at the corner of Travis Street and Eagle Lane due to the exponentially growing needs of Sherman and overall Grayson County. Thirty years later, a renowned Texas architect, Nicholas Joseph Clayton, was commissioned by the Bishop Claude Dubuis of the Diocese of Galveston to design the church that showed elements of Gothic and Romanesque influence to the Sherman community and became a significant part of Sherman’s architectural heritage3.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church served as the singular place of Catholic worship for 103 years but as a result of a continuous growth of the population in the area, a new church was built directly across the street – St. Anne’s in 2009. The parishioners named the new addition to the parish so as to ensure that the mother “Anne” and daughter “Mary” could “gaze upon each other with love and tenderness”4. The original church built by Nicholas Clayton in 1905 still stands and is in routine use in addition to St. Anne’s Church but both buildings are now referred to as St. Anne’s Catholic Church at St. Mary’s Catholic Parish.
2. Handbook of Texas Online, Donovan L. Hofsommer, "MISSOURI-KANSAS-TEXAS RAILROAD," accessed December 06, 2018,http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/eqm08.
3. West, Carolyn Effie. [Texas Historical Commission Marker: St. Mary's Catholic Church], photograph, 2011-12/2012-03;(texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth256920/: accessed December 6, 2018),University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Private Collection of Carolyn West.
5. Handbook of Texas Online, Robert A. Nesbitt and Stephen Fox, "CLAYTON, NICHOLAS JOSEPH," accessed December 06, 2018,http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fcl22.