History of St. Brigid Catholic Church


Father James H. Aerden, O.P.
Father Thomas O'Neill, O.P.
1865-1867; 1873-1875
Fr. Bernard M. Doogan, O.P.
Father Timothy Callaghan
Father Peter Birmingham
Father John E. Cottle
Monsignor James P. Cantwell
Monsignor James O'Connor
Bishop William J. McDonald
Monsignor Robert F. Hayburn
Father Kirby C. Hanson


For over one hundred and thirty years, St. Brigid's Church has served the needs of Catholics in San Francisco. Here are some important dates in its history.

September 10, 1863 St. Brigid's Parish is formed. Its boundaries are Larkin Street on the east, Bush Street on the south, the Pacific Ocean on the west, and the Bay of San Francisco on the north. Reverend James H. Aerden, a Dominican Father, is pastor.

January 31, 1864 Dedication of St. Brigid's Church is postponed due to rain.

February 14 1864 St. Brigid's Church is solemnly dedicated to Almighty God by Most Reverend Joseph Sadoc Alemany, the first Archbishop of San Francisco. The church is a one story building of two rooms, the room in the rear of the church serving the double purpose of residence and sacristy. The church proper is the first room with the dimensions of 40 x 76 feet. The building, itself, is very simple without any transepts or towers.

1865 Rev. Thomas O'Neill, O.P. succeeds Father Aerden as pastor.

1867 Father Doogan, O.P. replaces Father O'Neill.

1870 A parochial house distinct from the church is built for the parish clergy.

1873 Father O'Neill is reappointed pastor.

1875 Parish passes into the hands of diocesan clergy.

June 10, 1875 Father Callaghan is placed in charge of St. Brigid's Parish as its first diocesan pastor.

1880 The eastern boundary is moved from Larkin Street up to Jones.

1881 A second story is added to the parochial house.

1885 Father Peter Birmingham becomes pastor.

1886 The southern boundary is moved from Bush Street to California.

1887 Construction begins on a school building. Western line of boundary becomes Buchanan Street.

January 9, 1888 St. Brigid's School is formally opened. Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, an Irish order founded in Dublin in 1831, are the teachers. Attendance is approximately 150 pupils. The following description is from one of the daily papers of that date:

    "The school building is situated on the south side of Broadway, near Van Ness Avenue, and adjoining the rear of St. Brigid's Roman Catholic Church. It is conspicuous for its size, being one of the largest buildings in that part of the city. It was erected for Reverend Father Birmingham, Rector of St. Brigid's. Its four walls are covered with a gable roof, the west side being flanked by a tower with Louver windows. The style of architecture is Gothic, and although a wooden building throughout, its general appearance suggests strong and substantial work."

October 4, 1889 Reverend John E. Cottle is now pastor.

June 6, 1897 The old church is destroyed. A new St. Brigid's Church is being built. The basement is dedicated.

August 26, 1900 The cornerstone of the new church is laid.

December 18, 1904 The new St. Brigid's Church is dedicated by Most Reverend Archbishop Riordan. It is probably the only church in the world constructed out of old curb stones.

April 18, 1906 As a result of the earthquake, the granite gables were lying in the street. Many homes in the parish are destroyed by fire.

December 16, 1906 After only seven months, the church is reopened and rededicated.

June 1926 Monsignor James P. Cantwell is appointed pastor.

1928 A new reinforced concrete school replaces the old wooden school building.

1930 A new convent is built.

1947 The church is renovated. The seating capacity is enlarged from 750 to 1,050. Two new sacristies are added. A new entrance and facade and a new west wall are built. New lighting and new decorations are installed.

1953 St. Brigid's Academy, a girls' high school, is closed.

February 26, 1957 Father James O'Connor is appointed pastor.

(... in process of gathering data for this period ...)

1983 A new Ruffatti organ for St. Brigid's Church, designed by Piero Ruffatti, Francesco Ruffatti, The Reverend Monsignor Robert F. Hayburn, and Ted Alan Worth.

Part of the information was compiled from St. Brigid's Parish Golden Jubilee Souvenir and St. Brigid's Church Centennial Souvenir booklets.

Return to HOMEPAGE

© Copyright Committee To Save St. Brigid Church