Very few changes have been made to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church since it was built in 1910 and that is a good thing. Generations of families have sat on the original hardwood pews and looked up at the brilliant stained glass windows which were imported from Germany. Because of its beautiful Early Romanesque Revival Architecture, the National Park Service has decided to list the building on the National Register of Historic Places.
Father Starman, pastor of St. Patrick’s, believes that the designation of the church on the National Register will “help the parishioners of Saint Patrick’s to further realize the historical significance of our parish in O’Neill and in the state, which gives the opportunity to redouble our efforts to be the ‘voice’ of Jesus Christ to all who live and travel through our community.” Father Starman describes the church as a “Symbol of history, longevity, faithfulness, community, sharing, strength, hope, security and presence.”
Built out of brick, wood and natural stone, St. Patrick’s features two towers, a large rose window and a 4000-pound bell purchased from the McShane Bell Foundry of Maryland in 1886. The medieval-style stained glass windows are of exceptionally fine quality. The windows on the west all illustrate events in the life of Christ, while those on the east wall are Irish, German and Polish saints, reflecting the ethnic diversity of the early settlers. Also of note, Father Edward J. Flanagan served his first parish assignment at St. Patrick’s Church in 1912. Father Flanagan is best known as the founder of Boys Town, which was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1985.
David Calease of History Nebraska’s State Historic Preservation Office describes the building as “central to O’Neill’s history and heritage. The beautiful stained glass windows throughout the building, make it really stand out.”
The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s inventory of properties deemed worthy of preservation. It is part of a national program to coordinate and support local and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect the nation’s historic and archeological resources. Properties listed in the National Register may be eligible for State and Federal tax incentives. For more information on the National Register program in Nebraska, contact the Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office of History Nebraska at (402) 471-4775 or visit history.nebraska.gov/historic-preservation.