The Cathedral of the Holy Spirit is a local landmark in Bismarck, North Dakota. Its soaring white bell tower can be seen across town from a variety of directions.
Years of setbacks had delayed construction of the cathedral, which was built during World War II. The first bishop of Bismarck, Vincent Wehrle, bought land in Bismarck in 1917 on which to build the cathedral he had long dreamed of. Plans were drawn up within a few years, but construction was delayed due to the Great Depression. In 1940, the new Bishop Vincent Ryan got cracking on the plans. He hired William Kurke, who was an architect who helped design the new North Dakota Capitol in the 1930s. Kurke designed an Art Deco style cathedral of monolithic concrete. The decorations and accoutrements were expected to make it the most beautiful cathedral in North Dakota.
Construction got under way after groundbreaking in 1941. On this date in 1945, Bishop Ryan blessed the cathedral, which still needed some interior furnishings. More than 50 priests and hundreds of church members attended the blessing. Priests came from Alexander, Beach and Dickinson. A procession left Bishop Ryan’s home just south of the cathedral and circled the building before going inside to circle the interior. There, Bishop Ryan performed the Pontifical High Mass, the building’s first religious ceremony. However, the ceremony was not a dedication. That would come on a later date to accommodate more people.
The Cathedral of the Holy Spirit is part of the Cathedral Area Historic District of Bismarck, which is recorded on the National Register of Historic Places. The neighborhood’s architectural styles and its history of prominent residents of the early 20th century, such as Wild Bill Langer, contribute to its historic value.
Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura
The Bismarck Tribune. 1945, Aug. 30. Page 1.
The Bismarck Tribune. 1945, Aug. 31. Page 2.