St. Vincent’s Catholic Church Demolished

July 16, 1921 – Work began to dismantle Saint Vincent’s, the first Catholic Church building in Mendocino County. Located on Little Lake Road, the church site is now part of Hillcrest Cemetery, and a tall white cross marks the approximate place where the building once stood.

St. Vincent’s Church in Mendocino. View is looking northeast up Lansing Street. Next to the church and to the right is the home of Daniel Milliken, an early lumber contractor, which was demolished in 1946. To the right of that is the Spencer Hills House. Image taken from a stereopticon card. (Alice Earl Wilder, Alice Earl Wilder Collection, Kelley House Photographs)

The church building had a long history in Mendocino. In 1864, Bishop Eugene O’Connell sent Father Osuna from Marysville to count the number of Catholics living here. He found 20. Bishop O’Connell then sent Franciscan Father Sheehan to establish a church. In October 1865, Captain David F. Lansing and his wife sold the church lot to O’Connell for $150. The 64 by 32 foot church building was completed later that year at a cost of $2,500, a comparatively large sum at that time.

In May 1879, the steeple of the Catholic church was raised. This steeple became a well-known landmark for mariners, one that was visible for miles along the coast.

By 1902, the church was badly in need of repair. H. McKenzie and John Staudacher of Mendocino added a new foundation, and the building continued to be used for Sunday School classes after a new church was constructed on the west side of Lansing Street in 1905.

In 1911, the steeple was blown down in strong winds, and in 1921, the building was found to be too dilapidated to restore. Despite some resistance from the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey which had used the structure as a landmark for many years, Charles Boyle was allowed to tear the building down.

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