More than 40 people attended the Sacred Heart Cathedral 100th anniversary presentation on Thursday.
Church archivist Tim Wenzl presented the early history of Catholic churches in Dodge City in the church's courtyard and cathedral.
"Sacred Heart Cathedral is on the National Register of Historic Places," Wenzl said. "This building has had several titles. It's been a church, it is a cathedral and it is the school's chapel. Sacred Heart School will also celebrate its 100th anniversary this fall."
He said the first Sacred Heart church was built in 1882, and the current cathedral was built in 1916.
"Without Boot Hill there would not be a Gospel Hill," he said. "It wouldn't' have been named that. The Union Church on Gospel Hill was a nondenominational church created by businessmen in the community. It was more than just a church; it was a community building. The Presbyterians, Catholics, Methodists, Episcopalians and Baptists had services there. Two known Catholic priests that had mass in the Union Church were Father Felix Schwenberg and Father Ferdinand Wolf."
He said the Sacred Heart church in 1916 became a reality thanks largely to Father John Handly.
"He really felt that Dodge City as a Catholic community had fallen into spiritual neglect," he said. "Bishop Hennessy in Wichita asked him to build a church the Catholics in this community could be very proud of. He wanted it big enough so that someday Dodge City could have the headquarters for another diocese."
He said Handly raised $32,000 to build Sacred Heart, $700,000 in today's money. Handly commissioned Topeka artist George Melville Stone to paint the alter mural in the church. To localize the scene, Wenzl said Stone included a Native American and pinto pony.
"The stain glass windows were created by Emil Frei Studios of St. Louis," he said. "They were installed in 1948. The church has also undergone a couple of renovations."
Handly also helped to build the first Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Mexican Village in the early 1900s.
"In 1949, families started moving out of the village to the east side of Dodge City," he said. "A new Our Lady of Guadalupe was built on Avenue J, just north of the village in 1950. The brick church is still there. The diocese of Dodge City was established in 1951. Then Sacred Heart officially became a cathedral."
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe on 14th Ave. became the city's new official cathedral in 2001 when it was built.