need for a parish for English-speaking Catholics in the west end became
a necessity during the episcopacy of Bishop George Aloysius Carrell.
The Cathedral Parish, then located on 8th Street, could no longer accommodate
its growing congregation. Before the project could be undertaken, however,
Bishop Carrell died in September 1868. Two years passed before Covington’s
second Bishop, Augustus Maria Toebbe, arrived on the scene. Among Bishop
Toebbe’s first acts was to established St. Patrick Parish.
Father James Smith, assistant pastor at the Cathedral Parish, was appointed
the first pastor. Smith was a native of Ireland and was ordained for
the Diocese of Covington in 1866. Father Smith immediately began raising
funds for the construction of a church. The site for the new parish
was on Philadelphia Street at Elm (this property had been purchased
by the diocese in 1868). The cornerstone of the new structure was set
in place on August 28,1870 and the building was dedicated on August
22, 1872. The church was built of brick in the Gothic Revival Style
and cost $40,000 to construct. Louis A. Picket, a local architect, designed
the structure. The congregation held a membership of 125 families
In 1875, a two-story brick addition was constructed on the rear of the
church building for use as a rectory. In the following year, a parish
school was established. The school was held on the first floor of the
rectory and was taught by laywomen. This initial attempt at operating
a school lasted until 1886. Despite the loss of the school, St. Patrick
Parish flourished. By 1887, membership had increased to 300 families.
Another attempt at establishing a parish school occurred in 1891. This
attempt proved successful. That year, a two-story frame schoolhouse
containing four classrooms was constructed on a lot adjacent to the
church. Father Smith arranged for the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth
to staff the school which boasted an initial enrollment of 234 pupils.
In the year 1900, the parish financed an addition to the parish rectory.
The addition included a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. This space was
needed for the assistant pastor who had arrived in the parish in 1891.
In 1897, the parish installed eight new art glass windows in the church.
The windows depicted the following scenes: Immaculate Conception, Jesus
and the Little Children, Sister Margaret Mary, St. Anne, St. Martin
and the Beggar, Holy Family and Jesus, Mary and Martha. Other improvements
at this time included new Stations of the Cross and frescos.
Growth in the parish resulted in overcrowding in the parish school.
In 1905, Father Smith purchased an additional piece of property for
school purposes and began preliminary plans for the construction of
a new building. These efforts were encouraged when the parish received
a donation of $2,000 from Nicholas Walsh for the building fund. Father
Smith, however, would never see the new St. Patrick School. He died
on February 28, 1908, and was laid to rest in a special crypt in St.
Patrick Church. Smith was succeeded by Father James Cusack as pastor.
Father Cusack’s pastorate, however, was cut short by his death
St. Patrick’s third pastor, Father Thomas J. McCaffrey, was a
native of Ireland. Under McCaffrey’s guidance, the new St. Patrick
School was completed in November 1913. The school was designed by architect
David Davis and contained six classrooms, an auditorium and a gymnasium.
1917, stone was placed on the exterior brick walls of the church. This
improvement was followed by a complete restoration of the interior in
1921, which included new pews and tile floors, frescos by artist Nino
Passalaqua, and two large murals by artist Charles Svendson. The cost
of the restoration reached $16,000. The beautifully restored building
was ready for the golden jubilee of the parish in 1922. At this time,
parish membership stood at 450 families.
In the early years of the parish, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth
who taught in the parish school resided at La Salette Academy on Covington’s
east side. In 1928, the parish constructed a new convent for the sisters
of 4th Street near St. Patrick School. The modern two-story brick house
included a chapel for the sisters’ private use. Total cost for
the new convent amounted to $24,000.
St. Patrick Church and School were built on low ground near the Ohio
River. Due to its location, the parish suffered damaged from several
floods. None, however, compared to the great flood of 1937. St. Patrick
Church, School, rectory and convent all were damaged by high water.
In the years following World War II, the neighborhood around St. Patrick
Church changed dramatically. The new suburbs south of Covington attracted
many long-time parishioners. They were replaced to a large extent by
non-Catholic Appalachians who moved to the area for employment opportunities.
St. Patrick Parish did try to reach out to these newcomers, but had
little success. The congregation was dealt another blow in 1957, when
Monsignor Thomas J. McCaffrey died. Monsignor McCaffrey had been pastor
of the congregation for nearly 45 years. His successor was Father Raymond
During the 1950s and 1960s, the neighborhood lost many families due
to the construction of the Internal Revenue Facility and Interstate
75. By the mid-1960s, parish membership had declined to 150 families.
In 1967, Bishop Richard Ackerman officially closed St. Patrick Parish.
Parishioners were encouraged to attend nearby St. Aloysius Church and
School. St. Patrick Church, School, rectory and convent were demolished
to make way for an automobile service station.
Diamond Jubilee, St. Patrick Church, Covington, Kentucky, October
12, 1947; St. Patrick Church, Covington, Kentucky, 1872-1922, Golden
Jubilee Celebration; Kentucky Post, August 21, 1897, p. 5, January 15,
1906, p. 2, February 27, 1908, p. 2, November 29, 1913, p. 2, September
25, 1922, p. 1,