The Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Sorrows commenced somewhat inauspiciously—with a hushed mass in a bar room backed by a cow stable. Reverend Bonaventure Frey acquired the room, which sat no more than 130 people, to serve as a provisional space.
Founded in 1867 by the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, the parish originated to serve the growing population of German families in Kleindeutschland.
Henry Engelbert, a prominent German-American architect, designed the building for the Church’s permanent home—weaving Victorian, Byzantine, and Romanesque influences into the structure. After just over a year of masses at the makeshift location, Our Lady of Sorrows moved into what remains to be its current home at 103 Pitt Street.
With a new building seating up to 1500 parishioners, the community was given the chance to grow and thrive, which it did. As the century turned, however, the German community moved uptown and the face of the parish came to be defined increasingly by the newly arrived Italian immigrants attending mass.
As it’s wont to do, time continued moving on, and Hispanic faces steadily replaced the Italian ones. At the turn of the new millennium, masses in both English and Spanish were offered, and the church acquired a second name—Nuestra Señora de los Dolores.
Today, Our Lady of Sorrows remains a sanctuary for the neighborhood’s Roman Catholic community, regardless of how time has changed its demographics.