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St. Mary in the Mountains Roman Catholic Church

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1862, 1876–1877. Southeast corner of S. E and Taylor sts.
  • St. Mary in the Mountains Roman Catholic Church (Bret Morgan)
  • St. Mary in the Mountains Roman Catholic Church (Bret Morgan)
  • St. Mary in the Mountains Roman Catholic Church (Julie Nicoletta)

Virginia City's strong Irish community built St. Mary in the Mountains as the largest and most ornate church in the Comstock. During the Great Fire of 1875, John Mackay convinced Father Patrick Manogue to allow the church to be blown up as a means of slowing the fire's progress, promising to rebuild the church afterward. The current brick Gothic Revival structure, with a cruciform plan, stands on the granite foundation of the first (1862) church. Embellishments to the facade include buttresses with blind arches, the corner ones pinnacled, and, under crocketed gables, three sets of pointed-arched wood doors with raised tracery. Above these doors, a small rose window looks to the west, and a pair of arched windows admit light to the nave. Lancets on the sides light the aisles. St. Mary's octagonal spire, the tallest on the Comstock, can be seen from throughout the city. The church possesses one of Virginia City's most intricate interiors surviving from the late nineteenth century. A framework of wood columns and carved rafters supports the steep roof. Other features include large gas chandeliers and an elaborate altar and confessional.

Writing Credits

Julie Nicoletta


What's Nearby


Julie Nicoletta, "St. Mary in the Mountains Roman Catholic Church", [, Nevada], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Nevada, Julie Nicoletta. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, 95-96.

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