This small Carpenter's Gothic church has a central, open belfry (1899) with shingle siding and four pedimented gables. Father Thomas M. Cahill and his parishioners built the shell in twelve days, but immigrant miners probably took longer to paint the interior ceiling stenciling. During the 1890s depression, the church was dragged downhill from the southeast corner of High and Washington streets. Next to the church, Benedictine nuns and monks built and staffed St. Joseph's Hospital and St. Gertrude's Convent and Academy in efforts to civilize and Christianize the mining town. One German monk complained that “all the roustabouts, rascals, loose women, adulterers, etc., etc., find their way to Breckenridge.”
This same Father Rhabanus Gutmann called St. Mary's a crude church with makeshift furnishings, “a disgrace to the name of St. Mary.” Today it has been elegantly restored. Next door stands the much larger frame, metal-roofed 1985 church, for which priest and parishioners once again donated material, money, and labor.