Churches of Aberdeen: Sacred Heart Catholic Church

Current view of Sacred Heart. (6/21/2012)

Yet another beautiful church that has a place in the collection is the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. This is a building that has taken on a couple of faces throughout the years, since it was condemned, torn down, and then rebuilt on a grand scale in 1933.


The original edifice seen in these postcards was built in 1882 with Father Robert Haire as its founder. He was also reported as having forty-two mission stations between southwestern Minnesota and present-day southeastern North Dakota, so it is no wonder that he is recorded as having given the first religious service at the Aberdeen site in the fall of 1880. Later on when Haire had successfully founded a new parish in Aberdeen, the Presentation Sisters came to take part and ended up building Saint Luke’s Hospital and a school now more commonly known as Presentation College.  Of course, all of this religious activity apparently didn’t keep Father Haire busy enough, because later in life he became increasingly involved in politics, leading to his presidency in the Knights of Labor (among other things), and he is said to have especially promoted the statewide initiative and popular referendum that South Dakota adopted in 1897. (For more about Father Haire, see links below.)

Black and white photograph of the Sacred Heart Church.

The church Father Haire founded in Aberdeen continued to do well as the years passed, and when it was time to build a new church, it was Monseigneur Dermody who led the congregation. The new church was to cost an estimated $200,000 and be built in the gothic style of architecture. The outside had a white stone outline with gray and tan stone for the main color, featuring a cross rising 81 feet above the street. The inside was decorated with panels of hand-carved oak, two miles of plaster molding, and high beamed arches. Taking place during the depression, the work was reported to have been done by only the foreman of the company and four specialists with all the rest of the workers being unemployed members of the congregation, and the church was opened in December of 1933 where it remains to this day.

Click to view larger:

Other informative links:
Encyclopedia of the Great Plains (Father Haire)
South Dakota Magazine (Father Haire)
Initiative & Referendum Institute (Father Haire)
Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Historical Information-Aberdeen, SD
Items in the Collection
Browse by Collection

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *