“Mass was first celebrated in this area in 1849 by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. This church building was completed ten years later. Father Peter Yves Keralum designed the structure, which features Gothic Revival styling. The rectory was the site of the first Texas Oblate Seminary and served as a haven for priests fleeing revolutions in Mexico. Immaculate Conception first became a cathedral in 1874 when Bishop Dominic Manucy lived here. The designation was not granted again until 1965, when Brownsville was named the seat of the newly formed Diocese.” –Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, 1962. Texas Historical Commission historical marker.
ABOUT THE ARCHITECT–
“Father Pierre Yves Keralum was born in France in 1817, and worked as both a cabinetmaker and an architect before entering the seminary at the age of 28. In 1852 he was ordained an Oblate of Mary Immaculate (O.M.I.) and sent to deep south Texas to assist in the missionary work of this rugged frontier territory. Father Keralum Quickly put his architectural training to good use by designing gothic styled churches through the border region. He is most remembered for his great devotion to the service of the many isolated “ranchitos” in the area. On a mission to the ranchitos in 1872 he disappeared, leaving his fate a mystery until ten years later, when his remains were discovered some four miles north of the present city of Mercedes. Apparently, the aging priest had become disoriented in the thick brush, and was unable to find his way. In the end, Father Keralum gave his life, as well as his love serving the people of the Rio Grande Delta.” —Text from the “Brownsville Heritage Trail” marker.
Entered in the National Register of Historic Places, 1980.