The Roman Catholic religion has a long history of helping to shape the Tucson that we know today. The parish of St. Agustin has played a role in the lives of many citizens and their descendants.
The Cathedral of St. Agustin’s parish history began with the founding of the chapel of the Royal Presidio de San Agustin de Tucson and was first constructed in 1776. By the 1800s, the Presidio and the chapel were falling into disuse.
Upon the advice of Father Joseph Machebeuf who had been sent to do a survey of the area, a priest was appointed to serve the 600 or so people who were in the area.
Father Jean Baptiste Salpointe, originally of France, was appointed in 1866. The work began on a new structure which was even then referred to as a cathedral. The effort concluded in 1868. Declared an apostolic vicariate by the Holy See, Salpointe was declared Vicar Apostolic.
The church was rebuilt again in 1897, and in keeping with behavior that seems to be a pattern in this area, the original plans calling for spires that are part of a Gothic architectural structure were never completed due to lack of funds.
The entire structure was demolished by 1966. Only pieces of stone are left. There are some drawings of the old church and some old photos within the historical society of some of the walls but we have to use our imaginations for the most part.
A historical marker in a small park at Church and Broadway in the downtown area marks the location of the adobe and stone cathedral. The arched portal decorates the entrance to the Arizona Historical Society Museum at 949 East 2nd Street.
The current iteration of this parish can be found at 192 S. Stone in downtown Tucson. It was completed in 1968, and is an excellent example of Mexican Baroque architecture.