St. Francis de Sales Church, 2100 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, Oakland, Alameda County, CA
Significance: St. Francis de Sales Church is a characteristic example of a large brick urban Catholic Church of the late 19th century. It is Gothic Revival in style, has a cruciform plan, and a plaster ceiling of generally uniform height for good acoustics. With its bell tower and spire, it was one of the tallest buildings in Oakland when completed in 1893, and an important visual landmark for both its size and its siting. Built with money donated by Mary Canning, an Irish immigrant who made a fortune in real estate, and designed by Charles J.I. Devlin, a first generation Irish architect, for a largely Irish congregation, the building represented the growing prominence of the Irish and of Roman Catholics at a time of strong anti-Irish and anti-Catholic feeling. In 1962, St. Francis de Sales was designated as the cathedral for the newly formed Diocese of Oakland, and it was substantially remodeled in 1966-1967 in the spirit of new attitudes toward art, architecture, and liturgy following the Second Vatican Council. It was the first cathedral in the United States to be so modified, and became well-known both for its architectural modernization and for its modern liturgy and music.
Unprocessed Field note material exists for this structure: N271
Survey number: HABS CA-2345