Holy Family Catholic Church Historic District includes buildings around St. Catherine Street, which begins at the site of the Forks of the Road historic slave market, and ends at Martin Luther King Street–formerly Pine Street. I first spied the steeple of the Holy Family Church while leaving Natchez several years ago, and posted about it on Lottabusha County Chronicles. While HFCC Historic District clusters around Aldrich, Old D’Evereux, St. Catherine, Abbott, and Byrn Streets, I will just be focusing on St. Catherine buildings in the next few posts.
St. Catherine is one of the city’s most historic streets and was once a portion of the Natchez Trace, the historic trail that led from Nashville to Natchez. (Mary Warren Miller, 1995, nomination form for Holy Family Catholic Church Historic District, National Register of Historic Places)
Holy Family Catholic Church was designed by Natchez architect William Kendall Ketteringham in 1894, in what MDAH Historic Resources inventory defines as Gothic Revival/Queen Anne. Miller (1995) further adds that along with other Queen Anne style buildings in the district, it
left its mark on Holy Family…the city’s grandest example of the Victorian Gothic Revival style, in the design of the entrance portico with its turned posts and Queen Anne ornament.
Holy Family Catholic Church architecturally dominates the district due to its siting on a hill, its monumental size, and the elevation of the sanctuary above a fully raised basement.
Architectural features of the church include:
- the single stage tower with spire terminating in a finial in the shape of a cross
- belfry features Gothic-arched windows infilled with louvers on each elevation
- corner buttresses with pinnacles
- stained glass windows with original shutter blinds
- transoms of Gothic tracery
- gaslight reflector
Holy Family was dedicated in 1894, the first African American Catholic Church in Mississippi. The first pastor was Father A. N. J. Peters, who established “this mission” and in 1895, 21 were baptized at the Easter service. Father William Dermody had pastored for “nearly five years” in 1899. The Holy Family school had attendance of 90-100 pupils in 1895. The Josephites financed the construction of this new building, following the establishment of the parish in 1885. The first headquarters of Holy Family was in a frame building on Beaumont Street that had served as a convent for the Franciscan Sisters.