History

the church

The Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was dedicated August 14, 1859. It had been planned when Richard Pius Miles, the first Bishop of Nashville, realized the need for a Catholic church in North Nashville to serve the German families settling there.

Prior to the completion of the present structure, the church met across the street in the home of John H. Buddeke, served by Father John A. Vogel. David McGavock, interested in selling the land he owned in the area, donated the site with the stipulation that a chapel or church must be built within 18 months.

Father Vogel, together with Jacob Geiger, a master builder and stonecutter in nashville, is said to have designed the original brick structure. The bricks used in the construction of the north wall came from the Pro-Cathedral of the Holy Rosary on Capitol Hill. That structure was destroyed by fire.

Father Emmeran Bliemel, O.S.B., pastor from 1861 to 1863; served as Chaplain to the 10th Tennessee Infantry in the Confederate Army and was the first Catholic chaplain in U.S. military history to be killed while serving men in battle. In 1864 the Church of the Assumption was occupied by the Union Army and pillaged by the soldiers.

The original church has been enlarged and improved through the years. Between 1882 and 1887 the first major renovation took place. The original belfry was replaced by a tall steeple; and the interior of the church was also renovated with the addition of columns and plaster Gothic vaulting below the original barrel-vaulted ceiling. ( The steeple was damaged by a storm and removed in 1950, restored in 1984. )

The original windows in the nave were replaced with new stained glass designs and the magnificent altars, made in Cincinnati, were installed in 1887. An original 1859 window survives at the entrance to the choir loft and this design was reproduced in the window at the end of the vestibule. During the early 1900's the church was enlarged by an addition to the west end which included the transepts and the chancel. During the 1914 to 1919 pastorate of the Franciscan fathers; one of many orders to have served the pa rish, the interior was adorned with numerous paintings and decorative stenciling. The surviving paintings have since been restored by Mr. Sandor Bodo.

Many of Nashville's outstanding German families have attended services here. Among the family names are found Ratterman, Wessel, Roth, Buddeke, Meiers, Wernst, Geist, Baltz, Neuhoff, Dury, Brackman, Petre, Schweiss, Langdon, Strobel, Ross and many others. Also notable is the fact that from this parish church came Samuel Cardinal Stritch, the first American ever appointed to the Roman Curia; and the Most Reverend John A. Floersh, Archbishop of Louisville.