Saint Patrick Catholic Church, Placerville

Source: St. Patrick Church Website


The first Mass in Placerville was celebrated in the early spring of 1850, in a building made of rough-hewn logs, located below Union St. near Hangtown creek. Fr. Ingoldsby was the first Catholic missionary to this area, and he was also the first priest stationed in Placerville.

The first Catholic church was built in 1852 at the site of the current church on Sacramento Street. This building was destroyed by an incendiary fire on April 4, 1865. Fr. Largan, the pastor at that time, moved quickly to replace the church. A new brick structure was dedicated on August 13, 1865. This building was used until 1963, when it was replaced with the current structure.

A bell was donated by miners in 1852, when the first church was built. It was recovered after the fire in 1865, and installed in the new structure. This bell was transferred again to the new building in 1963, and is still in use today.

St. Patrick's Hall, which is presently used primarily for youth activities, was built in 1940. The Parish Center and Gurnell Hall were built in 1988. At that time, the church was also extensively remodeled, and the parking area was expanded.

The Sisters of Atonement came to Placerville in 1948. The first sisters to staff the mission were Sisters Mary Arthur DeLaurier, Mary Victor Bourgeau, and Catherine Swetz. The Sisters of Atonement served continuously in Placerville until 2001, when Sister Thomas Marie Heavey left.

Ursuline Sisters Helen Hermreck and Charlotte Keller came to Placerville in 1977. Sister Charlotte, who ministered especially to the youth, passed away in 1986. Sister Helen continues her pastoral ministry to the sick, elderly, homebound, and poor of the parish.

The first Catholic church in Georgetown, built around 1857, was at the corner of Church and Placer streets. This structure was destroyed in 1869 when a fire swept through the entire town. Temporary facilities were used for Mass until Fr. Gualco bought an armory on Main Street in 1882. In 1923, a new church was built on Main street next to the armory building. The current St. James church on Harkness street was built in the early 1980's, when Msgr. Nolan was pastor. Georgetown has had one resident pastor, Fr. O'Kane, who served from 1902 until 1923.

A priest from Placerville still celebrates Mass in Georgetown each Sunday. In the past, priests from Placerville have also served churches in Coloma and Green Valley, and the State penitentiary in Folsom.

The first Catholic church in Coloma was a log cabin, built in 1850. The present St. John's church was built in 1857. The Green Valley church was built sometime in the early 1880's.


Churches of El Dorado County California, by Will O. Upton. 1940
Reminiscing, by Claire Freeman. The Mountain Democrat, Jan. 18, 1997
Placerville, by Rev. T. J. Hayes. Nineteenth Diocesan Annual - 1928 

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