This nicely detailed aerial view of Sacramento carries the following description on the back: "California's Capitol Buildings in Sacramento constitute the finest state government plant in the United States, second only in size value and facilities to the National Capitol in Washington. Sacramento ranks as the sixth largest city in California, a population of 105,958 in 1940 and one of the most rapidly growing cities in America."
This March 7, 1941, photograph shows the Sears, Roebuck and Company department store, located at 1123 K Street. In the background are the tops of the Elks Temple, and the Cathedral. The store opened in April of 1928 at Twelfth and K, then only to modernize and expand in October of 1936. With the County's 62 percent growth between 1940 and 1950, Sears was forced to open outlets in the Arden and Florin districts of Sacramento, effectively closing the 1123 K store in May 1957.
"Wing Tips", Mather Field’s weekly newspaper circulated every Saturday. Started in August, 1941 the paper serves three purposes: it provides news, disseminates orientation data, and heightens morale. Contributors to the paper are Corporal Doris Day of the 799th WAC Headquarter Co. and Sacramento’s own Cpl. Wayne Thiebaud.
The lower level of the cathedral, the Thomas Aquinas Library, became a much needed social center for service men and women far from home, with regularly scheduled entertainment and social gatherings, often announced in this publication.
"A CATHOLIC men's group will be host to servicemen and women attending the Communion breakfasts in the St. Thomas Aquinas Library, below the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, tomorrow morning. Following the 9 and 10 o'clock masses in the Cathedral, the Men of the Holy Name Society of the Immaculate Conception Church of Sacramento will serve the free meal. Mather Field Catholics are especially invited to breakfast and also to take part in the evening program at 1115 K. From 8:30 P.M. every Sunday games and refreshments with junior hostesses in attendance are always in order."
In the fifties, the Babich and Lewis families donated the elegant statues in the lower tier of the Cathedral's facade. The upper tier niches remain empty.
DEACON RESTORES DOWNTOWN ‘TIME’
Printed in the November 13, 1969 issue of the Catholic Herald
For those who concluded that only a miracle or a bushel of dollars could ever get the Cathedral bell tower clock running again, they figured wrong. It was simply a case of a young man with curiosity and some know-how who likes to climb high ladders
Years ago, when the clock “gave up the ghost” as it were, a repairman quoted an astronomical price to repair the timepiece. Office workers and shoppers in the downtown area had to break themselves of the habit of checking the time on one of the four faces of the cathedral clock
Now, thanks to Rev Mr John Boll, an ordained deacon serving his apprenticeship in the Cathedral parish, the clock is back in running order once again.
Some weeks ago, John climbed up into the bell tower to see for himself what was wrong with the clock. He found a broken spoke in the clock mechanism which he took to his father, a machinist. His father braised the broken spoke and John reinstalled it in the cathedral clock. After a good cleaning and oiling of the clock, it is once again pealing out the quarter-hour for passersby on 11th and K Streets. (scd.org/archives)
From a promotional pamphlet:
Windows for a Second Century
"The dedication of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, on June 30, 1889, was a momentous event which marked the beginning of its first century as part of the life and witness of the Diocese of Sacramento. The Cathedral's most striking feature was its European stained glass windows. Still an important part of the church today, these windows memorialize the citizens of that era who donated them. Names such as Crocker, Stanford, Dwyer, and organizations as well, such as St. Mary's Church, Virginia City and the Knights of Columbus. Made in Austria, the windows incorporate even older glass believed to have been made in the 15th century. The renovation of the interior in 1971 added the rose window in the balcony and several other panels over the main doors and altar.
Unfortunately, much of the Cathedral's glass was never intended to be permanent. The important and highly visible window opening of the upper nave and balcony were filled with plain glass stenciled in diamond patterns. A report on the new building in The Record of 1889 states confidently: " The windows now glazed with ordinary glass to correspond with the rich windows of the transepts and sanctuary."
In 1928, Bishop Keane proposed the replacement of these "temporary" windows, but his death that year and other events of the time brought an end to his plan. Over the years these temporary windows have continued to age. The lead has corroded and the paint has worn off to such an extent that restoring proved to be unfeasible.
In celebration of its one hundredth anniversary, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament has commissioned a new set of replacement windows. The windows were designed by Susan van Heukelom, a California artist, and built by Cummings Studio of North Adams, Massachusetts, who have been associated with the Cathedral's glass since the 1920's. The forty-two windows take as their subject Biblical themes reflecting the Cathedral's anniversary rebuilding effort, and aspects of California land and life. Passages form Deuteronomy and Ecclesiastes, etched in darkened bars across the window's large, colorful, nonrepresentational forms, serve as the inspiration of the window's imagery. Their individual compositions echo the content of these passages, providing a visual interpretation of their familiar themes. The delicate, innovative style of the windows blends easily with the remaining earlier glass, and with the other permanent features of the Cathedral.
For generations, the Cathedral has inspired awe in the people who have come to pray and worship. We have been entrusted as the caretakers of this House of God. Our generation has the opportunity to protect and enhance this building with the traditional symbols of enlightenment so that it can continue to be a part of the life and witness of generations to come."
How many people realize one of the most unique works of art in the world has been hanging on the wall of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament for 80 some years? It is one of only two such copies of Rafael’s famous Sistine Madonna, and according to John B Matthew, whose task it has been in recent months to restore the painting, it is a real “treasure”, one that too few people know about. “To my knowledge,” Matthew explains, and since he is an expert his words carry importance, “this copy and its twin, hanging at Stanford University, marks the only time in the history of the art world that permission was granted to allow copies to be made in the same size as the original.”
In this case, it is an 8 by 10-foot reproduction, and again, according to Matthew, “an excellent work, done by Verbino, a fine painter, with the permission of the Emperor of Austria who owned the original when the Cathedral’s copy was commissioned in the late 1800s.” This came about when Mrs. E.B. Crocker, who was traveling to Austria to purchase stained glass windows for Bishop Patrick Manogue’s Cathedral, was accompanied by her friend, Mrs. Leland Stanford. The latter begged permission of the Emperor to have two copies made, one for the cathedral and one for the university, and he assigned the task to Verbino.
1970 issue of the Catholic Herald (scd.org/archives)
The Second Vatican Council in 1962-1965 mandated a number of changes that affected the Cathedral. Reforms emphasized greater participation of the assembled in the Mass. The communion railing was removed and a new altar moved to a platform centered under the dome. The organ and choir seating moved from the loft to the main floor. Chapel altars were removed and the confessionals were relocated to the two side chapels.
The 1939 main altar was moved to the chapel on the right and became the repository of the Blessed Sacrament, and the chapel on the left housed the baptismal font. Devotional stations were moved to the transepts. Pews were removed, carpeting and lighting were added and the Rose Window was refurbished with Belgian glass.
With the tallest spire of the cathedral just peeking over the buildings on K Street, this photo of the K Street Mall Fountain shows the urban renovation of the downtown area in the 70's, including around the cathedral, catering to pedestrians in hopes of bringing more people downtown for shopping and dining.
Sacramento experienced an upsurge in development and tourism in the late 70's.
Newspaper articles from California Digital Newspaper Collection
Some photos and related text, and periodicals are by permission from the Special Collections of the Sacramento Public Library