The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception (formerly St. Mary’s Catholic Church) was designed by four different architects.  Michael J. O’Connor designed the main part of the building.  The church was dedicated and the cornerstone laid in November of 1874.  The sanctuary and towers were added in 1903 and 1906 respectively, designed by Archimedes Russell.  Because the bell tower would not support the weight of a 30,000-pound cast iron bell, many years later electronic Flemish carillons were installed.  The adjacent rectory was built in 1913 by James Randall and the added baptistery was completed in 1958, designed by James Curtin. 

Example of one of the Cathedral’s windows

The spectacular Rose Window, above the entrance to the church facing Columbus Circle, has a cluster of eight highly embellished windows.  These Lancet windows remained hidden from sight for many years by a protective covering for the organ pipes.  They were rediscovered in 1978 when the church restored the organ and interior of the building.

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In 1841, the old wooden structure of an Episcopal Church was bought by Roman Catholics of Syracuse and moved from Hanover Square to a lot on Montgomery Street.  It became Saint Mary’s Roman Catholic Church.  The first service held was Christmas Eve, 1842, attended by a large congregation of mostly immigrants.  In 1889, the first phase of the existing magnificent church was completed in the current location with donations and volunteers at a cost of $250,000.  Bishop Patrick Ludden wanted to expand the church, but he ran into a problem with its next door neighbor.  Directly adjacent to the church was an exotic seven story Russian/Turkish Bathhouse named La Concha.  It had a notorious reputation and a determination to block any expansion of the church. 

La Concha Turkish Bathhouse

Bishop Ludden eventually bought the bathhouse with his personal funds, demolished it, and had a new sanctuary built on the spot.  In 1904, Syracuse’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was finally dedicated.   Today Bishop Ludden along with a number of other revered bishops rest in the crypt beneath the apse, in the very place that once held the notorious La Concha.