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St. Mary's Cathedral

St. Mary's Cathedral
Building Location 2612 W State St
Boise, Idaho 83702
North End Neighborhood
Ada County
Building Status Public
Year Built
Architectural Style Gothic Revival
Architect
Type
Material

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2612 State Street is the current and past site of St. Mary’s catholic cathedral. It is a newer era, imitation Gothic style cathedral, founded in the year 1937. Initially, it was a small building, and Edward J. Kelly, the bishop of Boise at the time, was criticized for making it so far out of town – in the year 1937, what is now the corner of State and 28th was the extreme edge of the city. The building was medium sized– considering it was built during the depression and money and work were not easily available. The church was initially a rectangular, symmetrical building in the classic Gothic style, albeit on a smaller scale. It had stained glass windows, unadorned with pictures but rather containing simple colored glass in the front, back, and both sides. At the top of the building is a tall steeple, following the typical religious style of pointing one’s “eyes towards heaven” and directing the gaze upwards rather than down. This steeple is somewhat distinctive in that rather than being made of iron or another solid material, it is made of rough, unfinished brass which leads to a quite interesting effect when it is exposed to sunlight. This tall conical steeple has a small cross atop it. Saint Mary’s Catholic Cathedral was remodeled over time during the years 2008 and 2009, in which it underwent massive expansion to the extent that what was previously the entire church is now just the pulpit area. A massive second building was added onto the left side of the church, changing the appearance to that of a meeting hall rather than a church while keeping the stained glass ornamentation, the red brickwork, and the sharply sloped roof characteristic of the original construction. In addition, a walled garden was added to the building, which obscured much of the frontal façade. Tragically, much of the architecture of the outside of St. Mary’s is hidden by either the walled garden or the adjacent school. One interesting exterior addition that the designer, Father Faucher, decided upon at the time of construction, was the addition of three dormer windows on each side of the church – this breaks up the steeply sloped roofline and allows natural light to enter the building. On the side of the church is a mural of a butterfly and three roses, which serves both as religious symbolism and simple aesthetic pleasure. On the outside, St. Mary’s combines the interesting elements of both ancient gothic cathedrals (tall spires, arched roofs), with the classic architecture of the late thirties (red brickwork) and interesting modern aspects (dormer windows). On the inside, St. Mary’s magnificent architecture truly shines. It contains in its roof panels a truly magnificent blending of form and function – the support beams are left bare and hanging out of the roof, providing an interesting visual while simultaneously keeping the roof up. This concept is mirrored in the columns – the stained wood is adorned with angels, but also provides critical support to the building. The inside of the church is perfectly symmetrical – from the doors at the very back to the pulpit up at the extreme front, a line could be drawn exactly down the middle. The church is also separated horizontally – the pulpit is separated from the main seating area by several pillars – there is plenty of space to walk through but enough wall to provide a distinctive separation. The inside of the church also contains small architectural “goodies” – from a mosaic tile fountain in the back to stone angels perched in the eaves, it is really quite beautiful to observe. On the whole, St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral is a very interesting and beautiful building architecturally due to its inventive blend of historical styles as well as its mixing of form and function.

Building submitted by Luke Radice

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