Cathedral of St. Andrew's

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St. Andrew's Cathedral.

The Cathedral of St. Andrew the Apostle is a Catholic church in downtown Little Rock. The church is in the Diocese of Little Rock.

The church traces its roots to priests of the Diocese of St. Louis, who traveled to the city around 1830. The first mass in the city was celebrated in 1830. This mass was said by Friar Peter Donnelly on the second floor above Duggan's Store located at Second and Main Streets. As membership grew, the church relocated to the corner of Third and Markham streets.

The church moved again in 1839 to a location on South Louisiana across the street from the present cathedral. This move was engineered by friars Joseph Richard Bole and Paris. The land for the church building, referred to as the "Old French Church," was donated by Colonel Chester Ashley. The church was dedicated by Bishop Mathias Loras of the Dubuque (Iowa) Diocese in 1841. Also in 1841 a convent and school administered by the Sisters of Loretto opened at the site.

Shortly after the Diocese of Little Rock was created in 1843 the church received its first bishop, Reverend Andrew Byrne. Byrne selected the site of a new cathedral in 1845 at the corner of Second and Center streets, dedicated on November 1, 1845. This was the first building known as St. Andrew's Cathedral.

In 1850 Bishop Byrne returned to his native Ireland to collect eleven members of the Sisters of Mercy for service in the Diocese of Little Rock. The sisters opened St. Mary's Academy in the Old French Church.

The present Cathedral of St. Andrew's, costing in excess of $470,000, was constructed from locally-quarried syenite at Seventh and Louisiana streets beginning on July 7, 1878. The cathdral's architect was Thomas Harding. The new cathedral was dedicated on November 27, 1881, by Bishop Edward Fitzgerald.

A new Cathedral of St. Andrew School opened to youth in January 1924, and administration of the school was transferred to the Olivetan Benedictine Sisters of Jonesboro, Arkansas. The school closed in 1962 as families moved to new neighborhoods on the west side of the city.

St. Andrew's Parish Hall opened at the corner of Ninth and Louisiana in 1941, and a new rectory in 1966. The parish hall was replaced by a new structure, which included an education center, in November 1995.

The Cathedral of St. Andrew's is located at 617 South Louisiana Street. The cathedral is made of granite quarried nearby at Fourche Mountain. One of the two towers stands 220 feet in height. Four bishops are buried in the crypt of the cathedral: Andrew Byrne, Edward Fitzgerald, John Morris, and Albert Fletcher. The English Gothic church is on the National Registry of Historic Places.


  • Arkansas Writers' Project, Arkansas: A Guide to the State (Works Progress Administration, 1941), 177.
  • William F. Pope and Dunbar H. Pope, Early Days in Arkansas: Being for the Most Part the Personal Recollections of an Old Settler (Little Rock, AR: F. W. Allsopp, 1895).

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