The historic Immaculate Conception Church is located in the central Sacramento metropolitan area near the intersections of Highway 99 and Interstate 80 / Highway 50. The building has stood witness through many changes during its 111-year history and remains an anchor for the parish and community as a place of sacredness, respite and giving.
The 1916 Romanesque Revivalist structure retains much of the original feel, including statues and images from older periods, while at the same time has been updated to reflect changes in the liturgy and the community over the years. The peaceful interior is an oasis from the busy Broadway Street running alongside the grounds and is a great place for prayer and meditation. The building is open for daily Masses at 9 a.m., as well as for Saturday vigil and three Sunday Masses, including the Masses in Spanish at 7 and 10 a.m.
The historic church of the Immaculate Conception dates from 1916 when its construction was orchestrated by Father William Ellis, one of two Irish brother priests who were the first to lead the parish. The Romanesque Revivalist structure took less than eighteen months to build according to parish records and was designed by architect Frank Shea (who was also the architect of the nearby Saint Elizabeth of Portugal Church). The brick façade with a rounded archway and the tall cross-topped brick bell tower are classic Romanesque features that distinguish the structure. Also eye-catching is the unique robins-egg-blue and white colors of the exterior walls representative of the Blessed Virgin Mary, patroness of the parish. The building is shaded by tall white-barked sycamores and decoratively graced by a row of five spectacularly tall Mexican Fan Palm trees on the western and Canary Island Date Palms on the eastern side.
The church property consists of a full square block – most of which was presciently purchased in the early years of the parish by the Ellis priests with their own funds. The remainder of block was acquired over the years by the church until by 1985, the entire block was owned. The property includes brick buildings originally housing the Immaculate Conception school, the convent for the Holy Cross Sisters who taught at the school (eventually became the Ellis Seniors Residence) and the rectory building for the clergy. The Immaculate Conception School was closed in 2003 but the building continues in use as a charter school operating as the Capitol Heights Academy, and the convent serves as the Pastoral Center. The preservation of these historic buildings enhances the ambiance of the neighborhood which continue to provide value to the community.
Special thanks for the commentary related to this church is due to Deacon Gerald M. Pauly who has written a very comprehensive history of Immaculate Conception Parish and can be obtained via the link in the references below.
Address: 3263 First Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95817
Phone: (916) 452-6866
Gribble, Father Richard – https://simplycatholic.com/immaculate-conception/
Korn, Brother Daniel, CSsR. Embracing the Icon of Love. Bengaluru: ATC Publishers, 2015.
Moffit, John F. Picturing Extraterrestrials: Alien Images in Modern Culture. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Press, 2003.
Murphy, Monsignor James T. Saints and Sinners in the Cristero War. San Francisco: Saint Ignatius Press, 2019.
Pauly, Gerald M. A Short History, Immaculate Conception Parish. Sacramento, 2009 https://immaculateconceptionsacramento.org/documents/IC_history_booklet.pdf