Sunday, March 13, 2011

                                                                                                         March 13, 2011

330 Boone Avenue

St. Aloysius Catholic Church at Gonzaga
Spokane, Washington

Gonzaga University in Spokane Washington sits on the bank of the Spokane River just north of the downtown area. Gonzaga University was started by the Jesuits in  1887 on a 320 acre of land purchased in 1881 for $936 by Fr. Joseph Cataldo. "It was named Gonzaga College after Italian Aloysius Gonzaga, the patron saint of youth." (Link 2) When the building was completed it was the largest building in Spokane except for the County Courthouse.  The tuition and board for the 20 students at that time was $250 for the ten month term.  A second building was added in 1892. Today 5,000 students attend Gonzaga University. "The campus now includes 94 buildings on 131 acres...Gonzaga employs over 1,200 people " (Link 2)  making it one of the major employers in Spokane.  The university is not only known for its academic excellence, but for its basketball team, the Bulldogs,  affectionately called the Zaggs, and for one of its alumni, Bing Crosby.  Bing Crosby grew up in the area and at age 13 served as an altar boy at the campus church, St. Aloysius.

St. Aloysius Catholic Church is at 330 Boone Ave. and is the eastern anchor of Gonzaga University.  A framed church was originally built in 1881.  It could accommodate a congregation of a few hundred people.  The church and the University recreation hall were moved in 1899. And in 1911 a new St. Aloysius Church designed by Preusse and Little of Spokane was dedicated. This church seats 1100 people.  It is190 feet long, 110 feet wide, and 124 feet high.

"The bell in the east spire was constructed by the Meneely Bell Company of Troy, New York.  It was dedicated on Christmas Day, 1913 and it is named Catherine." (See Reference.)

"The present St. Aloysius church was dedicated October 12, 1911.  It has the largest seating capacity among Catholic churches in Spokane, able to accommodate 1,100 worshippers.  The church, which replaced an original wooden structure, was designed by the architectural firm of Preusse and Little of Spokane.  In an adapted Romanesque style, its many rounded arches and graceful circular features help to soften construction lines.  The church, begun in 1909, took almost exactly two years to build at a cost of $176,125.

Nave and High Altar

" Interior features of St. Aloysius church include oak woodwork, altars and ambo of matching Italian marble.  The high altar was designed and built by the DePrato Studio in Italy.  It stands 26 feet high and is 18 feet wide at its base. The true pipe organ with 37 ranks of keys was acquired in 1927 and rebuilt in the early sixties.  The beautiful gold pipes are ornamental and conceal the actual working pipes behind them." (See Reference.)

Pipe Organ, Balcony, and 3 of the Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross, in three-dimensional plaster, were made by the Mayers’ Studio of Germany.  This firm was also responsible for the magnificent stained glass windows (25 by 12 feet) flanking the nave, the great rose windows surmounting the east and west balconies, and the smaller niche windows, depicting Jesuit saints and the life of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, positioned around the apse. 



In recent years, four new windows have been added depicting  St. Jude, St. Francis Xavier Cabrini, Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.


"The distinctive twin spires, housing the great bell Catherina, rise 164 feet  above the surrounding area. The crosses topping each spire add another 10 feet, and are visible from vantage points throughout the city."(Link 1.)

The east Rose Window acquired through donations of the Irish community.

The church is open for visitors and for private prayer during daylight hours throughout the year.  Brochures providing a self-guided tour are available in the narthex near the main doors and near the Visitors' Guestbook, and guided tours are scheduled at intervals after the Sunday Masses.   Docents can be available for group tours throughout the year by appointment; call 313-7006 to schedule.

Photos: Taken in 2006 and 2011 by SW.
Link 1: http://www.stalschurch.org/aboutus/index.htm
Link 2: http://www.gonzaga.edu/Academics/Libraries/Foley-Library/Departments/Special-Collections
/exhibitions/GonzagaHistory1887.asp
Link 3: http://www.gonzaga.edu/Academics/Libraries/Foley-Library/Departments/Special-Collections/Collections/Bing-Crosby-Collection/CrosbyandGonzaga.asp
Reference: Pamphlet, Welcome to St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church.


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