majority of the neighborhood's original settlers were either
German or Irish descent. Rivalry between the ethnic groups
was intense for newly immigrated to the United States who
were not only vying for status within the community but also
for the limited number of blue-collar jobs that were available
at the time. The Irish were especially close knit and generally
did not welcomed anyone but their own into their churches.
At the corner of Riverside and Gittings Street stands St.
Mary, Star of the Sea, which was built in 1871.
Irish in the neighborhood established this Parish at atime
when the Catholic Church of America was obligated to create
new parishes and new orders of priests and teaching nuns as
a means of coping with the differences between rival ethnic
groups. In the evening, after work, the parishioners would
arrive at this site with picks and shovels in-hand to dig
the building foundation. Bricklayers, carpenters, and general
laborers were then enlisted to deal with the actual construction
of the Church. Most of the original interior furnishings (including
the marble flooring) came from Europe. The entire project
was financed by staging street fairs, carnivals, strawberry
festivals and harvest homes. By 1900, the construction debt
had been paid in full.
the 1960's in an effort to stem the tide of decreasing attendance,
the Vatican issued an edict for the "modernization"
of all Catholic Churches. Adeep division between the younger
parishioners of St. Mary's and their elders developed. A furor
erupted when most of the beautiful and valuable orginal European
furnishings were damaged or removed.
many of the artifacts, inluding the original altar, have recently
been recovered and a major interior restoration project at
St. Mary's began in 2002. For the first time in nearly 40
years. visitors can view the beautiful marble blue star that
was originally installed in the floor of the Church just beyond
the main foyer. This installation was meant to compliment
the blue beacon installed in the Churches tower, which was
lit to welcome home returning Irish sailors. The beacon has
long been considered a Baltimore landmark.
Mary's Star of the Sea is a place of worship. Therefore, if
you wish to view the Church's interior you would be wise to
call (410) 685 - 2255 to arrange for an appointment.