Our History And Heritage
On May 24, 1856, the Dallas Herald published the following notice:
“Rev. Mr. George Rottenstein will perform Divine Services in Dallas on Sunday, May 25th, at eleven o’clock A.M. and half past four P.M.”
Storehouse to Storefront
The next issue indicated that services would be held regularly in “the old storehouse of Smith and Patterson.” This meager beginning occurred three years before Texas had its first Episcopal Bishop, Alexander Gregg. After the Civil War, services took place at the Court House and then at another storefront. (St. Matthew’s is the third oldest church in the City of Dallas.)
Building Again for Growth
This young congregation relocated to several places in Dallas, finally constructing its first building at the corner of Elm and Lamar. Outgrowing that building, they moved into a much larger facility at the corner of Commerce and Kendall. The Dallas Morning News referred to this beautiful building as “the finest church in Dallas.”
Bishop Alexander Charles Garrett
The Episcopal Church created the Missionary District of North Texas in 1874 and appointed the Rev’d Alexander Charles Garrett as its first bishop. This Irish-English priest, with a learned mind and sharp wit, captured the attention of numerous Texans. Soon after arriving in Dallas, he named St. Matthew’s Parish as his Cathedral. In 1895, the Missionary District became a diocese, and Bishop Garrett continued to serve as its bishop for nearly thirty more years.
In 1889, Bishop Garrett founded St. Mary’s College to educate young women. Soon afterward, a beautiful new chapel was built through the generous gifts of a donor in New York and Mrs. A. H. Belo, Sr., of Dallas. Later, Garrett Hall was built as a classroom and dormitory housing and given to Bishop Garrett as a birthday present.
Still Another Move
Growth in the parish congregation led to another move, this time to the corner of Canton and Ervay, on December 20, 1899. That building was also described as one of the finest churches in all of Texas.
Our Present Home
Although St. Mary’s College served Dallas for many years, mounting debt and the approaching recession threatened to consume the school. The vestry voted to leave their well-built, classic neo-Gothic building downtown to relocate the congregation to the St. Mary’s College Chapel and assume all the debts of St. Mary’s College. They then expanded the chapel with the expectation of building a larger Cathedral, but these plans were set aside after the stock market crash and the Great Depression.
St. Matthew’s Cathedral has endured and flourished for over 85 years at the corner of Ross and Henderson and over 160 years as a church. As the neighborhood surrounding the Cathedral has changed, and many churches have moved away or closed, St. Matthew’s Cathedral has remained as a witness to God’s faithfulness and steadfast love.