A Phoenix Rises from the Ashes

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception - Lake Charles, LA

Though this church and its associated buildings were destroyed in a catastrophic fire in 1910, it has been rebuilt into something magnificent.

In the wake of the Civil War, a 4,000-square-mile parish named St. Francis de Sales formed in western Louisiana (Oubre 40). In 1869, St. Francis de Sales became an established parish by the archbishop; in 1881, the parish constructed a new church and named it the Immaculate Conception (“The Story”). Attached to the parish was St. Charles Academy, which “served as the center of education for Calcasieu Parish” (“Our History”). These structures were lost, however, to a devastating fire in 1910, which consumed 109 buildings in Lake Charles (“The Fire Walk Script”), including “Immaculate Conception Church, its rectory, the boys and girls Catholic schools, and the convent of the Sisters Marianites of Holy Cross” (“The Story”).

On December 18, 1913, the current Immaculate Conception church was dedicated. This structure was designed by the same architects who designed Calcasieu Marine Bank, Calcasieu Parish Courthouse, and the Strand Theatre, all of which “are listed on U.S. National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places” (“The Story”). It is interesting to know that, while “buildings owned by religious organizations are typically excluded from being listed in the registry, an exception was made for Immaculate Conception because of [its] great artistic value” (“The Story”). In 1980, Pope John Paul II established the Diocese of Lake Charles, and the church of the Immaculate Conception was elevated to the status of a cathedral. It is a beautiful landmark worthy of this honor.