History of The Basilica

More Than a Church for More Than a Century

More than just a beautiful building, The Basilica is a living landmark. Every day, it serves as a center for community outreach, a venue for the arts and a spiritual home to thousands.

The Basilica of Saint Mary has been a foundation of our community for more than a century. It is one of the most recognizable and defining landmarks on the Minneapolis skyline, but The Basilica is more than just a structure.

Whether guiding nearly 12,000 parishioners through their faith journey, amazing visitors with its grandeur, or providing for those who are less fortunate, The Basilica has touched countless lives.

The Basilica was built under the leadership and vision of Archbishop John Ireland beginning in 1907. French architect Emanuel Masqueray was handpicked to build what would become one of the area’s finest examples of Beaux Arts architecture.

The Basilica of Saint Mary was the first Basilica in the United States and took 20 years to complete what would ultimately become the centerpiece of the community.

The harsh Minnesota winters and ice damage took a terrible toll inside and out on the incredible structure. Years of deferred maintenance led to a desperate situation in the early 1990s when The Basilica’s condition nearly caused it to be closed.

A committed group of volunteers and staff came together to found The Basilica Landmark (formerly Friends of The Basilica of Saint Mary Foundation). Thanks to their tireless efforts and the financial support of generous donors, much-needed capital improvements and preventative maintenance are now possible.

It takes an incredible effort to restore, preserve and maintain The Basilica. The Basilica Landmark works to preserve the physical structure so that it remains a part of our community for generations to come.

We invite you to learn more about The Basilica’s history and consider making a gift today.


Supporting The Basilica Landmark restoration honors the history and plans for the future of The Basilica.