All Souls Catholic Parish History

All Souls Catholic Parish History

July 9, 2015

2008 Church

1937 Church and 1887 Church (bottom)


The photographs directly above and below this entry are of the first All Souls Catholic Church for which the cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1887 by Father Felix Prosper Swembergh as part of the grand Independence Day celebration that brought thousands from far away cities to the little town of Sanford on Lake Monroe.

The church was completed around November 1887, shortly after the death of the beloved Father Swembergh who died of Yellow Fever on October 31, 1887, caring for the sick and dying in Tampa. This is based on an article in the Florida Times Union dated October 27, 1887: "The Catholic Church at Sanford will soon be completed. It will be one of the handsomest of the state." It would certainly have been amazing if the church had been completed in time for All Soul's Day 1887, however, the actual date of completion has yet to be found.

The first church was burned to the ground in the early morning hours of January 25, 1932. The first fire alarm came in at 4:30 a.m. and within minutes the fire department was on the scene. Due to wind shifting, the rectory caught fire as well and was nearly destroyed. Everything in the church burned to the ground but church records were saved. Some bystanders helped save some of the furniture in the rectory and removed it to the former school / convent for safety.

This rare photographic postcard above, shows the rectory (built in early 1911 for the first resident pastor Father Patrick J. "PJ" Bresnahan), first church (constructed in 1887) and convent/school (completed by May of 1912 for the Sisters of Mercy and their St. Anne's School) as they stood prior to the fire of January 25, 1932. The photo below shows the rectory after the fire. You will note that there is nothing left of the church but the foundation bricks visible to the right of the rectory in the photograph.


LOOK under IMAGES below for a closer view.

The photo below was taken at the time of the church fire on January 25, 1932 by the Sanford Fire Department. It shows what was called at the time the Social Hall. It was the building completed in May 1912 that housed the Sisters of Mercy and their St. Anne's School, as reported in the May 10, 1912, Tampa Tribune: “The convent and home for the Sisters of Mercy that has been built on the property of the Catholic Church, in the enclosure with the church, is so near completion that the sisters, who are conducting the school, have moved in, and the children are receiving instruction in the new building, which, from the exterior, seems to be ample for use as a school and also a home."

LOOK under IMAGES below for a closer view.

Despite the fact that Sanford's citizens keenly felt the ill effects of the Great Depression, the church was rebuilt and was dedicated on July 4, 1937, the 50th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone for the first church.

The 1937 church, now referred to as the Historic Chapel, still stands on land purchased by Bishop John Moore in 1887 in Sanford between 8th and 9th Streets and Oak and Myrtle Avenues.

In 1965, there were 350 families in the parish and the parish boundary lines were: North, Lake Monroe; East, St. Johns River; South, Township 25 line going west from the St. Johns River to Sanford Avenue extended, Sanford Avenue north to Onora Road; Onora Road west to Lake Ada, north from Lake Ada to Twenty-fifth Street, west to Paola Road extended to Wekiva River; West, the Wekiva River. (Parish boundary information from: Catholic Parishes of Florida Histories, Univ. of Florida Smathers Libraries, Aisle 23/D/5-6, Box 4-5, Michael Gannon, 1965)

The third church was completed in 2008 and dedicated in August of that year.

VIEW THE 2008 DEDICATION ALBUM

READ ABOUT ALL SOULS CATHOLIC SCHOOL

READ ABOUT ALL SOULS CATHOLIC CEMETERY

VIEW THE SUNDAY BULLETINS FROM 1953 TO 1968

PLEASE LOOK at the IMAGES and CLICK DOCUMENTS below.

Author:
gildeagirl
Location:
All Souls Catholic Church Sanford , FL
United States
US

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