Thursday, May. 23, 2019

Tomales Church: A Symphony of Stone

By Laurie Thompson · June 25, 2015

Concept Drawing for the Church of the Assumption, Tomales <span>&copy; Marin County Tocsin </span>

Concept Drawing for the Church of the Assumption, Tomales

Tomales Church of the Assumption under construction, circa 1901 <span>&copy; Anne T. Kent Calif. Rm </span> Tomales Church of the Assumption in ruins following the 1906 Earthquake <span>&copy; Anne T. Kent Calif. Rm </span> Today's Tomales Church of the Assumption <span>&copy; Ginny Magan </span>

In 1899 the cornerstone was laid for the "new" Church of the Assumption in Tomales. According to Ginny Magan of the Tomales Regional History Center:

Toward the end of the 19th century the Catholic population of Tomales Township was steadily growing and the little white Church of the Assumption, built in 1860, was becoming crowded. (TRHC Newsletter, April, 2006).

The beautiful new Church of the Assumption, built of local and imported stone, was dedicated in 1901 but was only to be enjoyed by the citizens of Tomales until 1906, when it was reduced to rubble by the earthquake.

Magan tell us that after the 1906 earthquake they decided not to rebuild the "new" church but instead to restore the original 1860 wooden church structure.  A few items from the "new" church were salvaged from the ruins:

....A survivying stained glass window and baptismal font [were] salvaged from the ruins...A slightly damaged statue of Mary holding the baby Jesus was also rescued, and stands today in front of the venerable little 1860 building. The stone retaining wall, steps, and two piers, one with a sphere still atop it, [also] remain to recall the short-lived "new" Church of the Assumption.

An article in the July 29, 1899 Marin County Tocsin "reconstructs" the architectural features of the short-lived "new" Church of the Assumption:

The corner stone of the Church of the Assumption of Tomales...will be laid with all due pomp and ceremonies tomorrow at 12 o’clock.... The building is to be constructed entirely of stone, the foundation of Rocky Canyon basalt below ground, above ground the walls of San Rafael blue sandstone from the Hotaling quarry. Window and door opening and gables will be trimmed with yellow sandstone from quarries near Tomales. The roof will be of slate or tile and the entire interior construction and ornamentation will be of natural wood.

Eight hundred tons of stone will be consumed in constructing the edifice. The style of architecture will be Romanesque or Monastic, laid up in irregular joints and rock faced with rugged effect. The windows of richest art glass will be donated and will be ready in time for the dedication. They include three large rose windows in transept and sacristy and front gable and several smaller ones. Among the donors are Mrs. Griffin, Mrs. Clark and Mr. Carroll. A magnificent altar, constructed entirely of light-veined Italian marble and donated by Carlo Martinola [Charles Martin], will be placed in the main sacristy at a cost of over one thousand dollars. A sacristy lamp, rich in design, and an organ has been promised.

The church occupies a beautiful site on the summit of one of the many hills in Tomales. The residents of all denominations have shown the most liberal spirit in the construction of the building, the construction material having been hauled in wagons gratis by them. The cost of the building will be in the neighborhood of $10,000 when completed and ready for occupancy and will be one of the finest of small churches in California.

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Katherine Rinehart wrote almost 4 years ago

I notice that the concept drawing of the Church of Assumption was prepared by Shea & Shea architects of San Francisco. According to An Architectural Guidebook to San Francisco and the Bay Area also designed Saint Rose Catholic Church in Santa Rosa in 1900 and the Saint Philip the Apostle Church in Occidental in 1902.


Laurie Thompson wrote almost 4 years ago

That's very interesting, Katherine!  Are both of these churches still extant?

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