Over the summer, I was able to venture into the closed St. Mark Catholic Church in Cincinnati, Ohio to photograph more of its intricate elements, and to follow up on two prior visits. Located in the Evanston neighborhood, the parish was dedicated to the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, and during its first fifty years, there were 24 priestly vocations, which included one bishop, two religious brothers and 36 religious sisters.
The first church for St. Mark was dedicated in October 1906 but it was not long before a new facility was needed due to a rapidly expanding population. Architect Henry J. Schlacks was sought after to design a larger church that would be inspired after St. Marie in Trastevere and St. Marie in Cosmedio, Italy. Schlacks was the founder of the Architecture School at Notre Dame University, and was the architect of Xavier University’s original campus buildings and other notable Cincinnati landmarks.
In 1914, the cornerstone for the new church was laid and the new building was completed two years later at a cost of $150,000. The exterior featured a mild brown brick with a terracotta facing which was colored to match that of Roman Travertine stone, with a Verona facade, and imported orange Roman tiles. The inside was just as labish, with Botticino marble used for the three consecrated altars, with the high alter containing images of the twelve apostles, which is surmounted by a baldachino comprised of Breccia marble. The side altars featured Lady as Queen of Angels and Mother Hen, and St. Joseph as Scion of the House of David and Patron of the Universal Church. Several statues included Sacred Heart, St. Anne, St. Mark and St. Rose, all constructed of Carrara marble. The stained glass windows were crafted by Zettler of Munich, Germany.
In 1933, a large pipe organ, built by Kilgen, was installed.
At its height, St. Mark welcomed 1,200 families every Sunday. But with the decline of the neighborhood in the 1970s came the decline of the parish. In more recent times, St. Mark was home to a small congregation of mostly African-American Catholics. Planning for a merger began in 1991 and in on July 25, 2010, the last service was held at St. Mark. It was merged with two other congregations with a combined 550 worshipers.
A proposal soon after called for St. Mark to become home to a new parish with a focus on Latin Mass. But restoration costs, tabbed at $2 million, and property acquisition, proved to be a high hurdle and the plan was shelved.
Today, St. Mark remains vacant and in an ever peculiar situation. It’s not been offered for public sale, but is still owned by the parish. It’s condition worsens with each passing month, with ornate plaster details becoming more worn and ruined with every developing leak in the roof.
Of course, there are many more photographs to pursue after the jump to St. Mark Catholic Church. Enjoy!