Church History

Emmanuel was the first Catholic Church established in Dayton, OH in 1837. In the early years, Emmanuel was predominantly a German territorial parish, founded by Fr. Emanuel Thienpont.  The first church was built in 1837; the second, and current church building, in 1871 and is one of the largest church buildings in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, 166 x 84ft, with a ceiling height of 65ft.

In 1869 plans for a new church building were formulated by Fr. John Hahne due to deteriorating condition of the old church, which then stood on the site of present rectory. Leon Beaver, a Dayton architect, drew plans for a German Gothic structure with no supporting pillars on the side aisles, lending to an unobstructed view of the Altar.  Also in the plans were two balconies, one for the choir and organ and the other for the school children.

On September 8, 1871 the first foundation stone was laid.  Andrew Kinninger and Frederick Lampert built the structure of soft brick, trimmed in Dayton limestone.  The dedication of the completed church building occurred on October 5, 1873 by Bishop Borgess of Detroit and was attended by nearly 10,000 people. The final cost for the new church was $93,000.

The church has experienced many historical moments.  In 1912 a cement stucco rock face was put over the church, however all limestone trim was left in its natural state.  In 1913 the church survived the Great Flood, in which the floodwaters reached the height of the windowsills inside the church. In 1920 a windstorm blew down the 150 foot rear spire.  The Church originally had twin spires, 212 feet in height with 8 clocks facing all directions. These spires were removed in 1956 due to wind damage.  The Emmanuel window over main altar honors the Blessed Sacrament with angels in adoration.  The other 14 stained glass windows, 6ft x 40ft, depict the life of Christ.  The Stations of the Cross, polished bronze and marble altar railing, aisle floors and two great chandeliers date from the 1895-97 redecoration.

From 1837-1956 Emmanuel was staffed by Diocesan Priests.  The Marianist Order staffed the church from 1956 to July of 2011.  In July of 2011 the Marianists turned over control to the Precious Blood priests and brothers, whom, to this date, continue to maintain the church’s day-to-day operations.  May God bless the staff, who can be proud of their strong heritage, the parishioners and all who come to worship in Emmanuel Church.