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The oldest church in the Phoenix area - St. Mary's, Tempe, Arizona


If you've been on the campus of Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe, maybe as a student, or visiting, or going to a game at the stadium, or, like I did today, eating a burger at the Chuckbox, you've been right nearby the oldest church in the valley, St. Mary's in Tempe, on the northwest corner of University and College. If you've gone past it a million times, that wouldn't be surprising either, it's pretty small. But it's been there since 1903, making it the oldest church in the valley.

Time travel with me (after you've had your burger, of course) and stand looking at the church in 1903. To the north is Tempe Butte (I call it A Mountain). The streets were dirt. Yes, the school was there, and had been since 1885, but it was called the Tempe Normal School. Nowadays, of course it's the home of the Sun Devils, ASU. Back then it was the home of the, uh, Normals. Really, that was the name of the team back then.

That's all I know. The sign in the front says the Newman Center, but mostly I looked at the historical plaque, which was installed in 1980. It says, "The Old Church. Built in 1903 with stone from Tempe Butte and dedicated to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, this Church is the oldest in the valley. For decades it was the only Catholic Church in the area and former Pastors include Bishop James Davis of Santa Fe and Bishop Francis Green of Tucson. It is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places."

Thank you for time-traveling with me.





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