Points of Historic Interest in Storey County
Father Hugh Gallagher built Virginia City's first Catholic church after his arrival in 1860. A strong wind blew the humble building down within two years.
Father Patrick Manogue built its successor, known as St. Mary in the Mountains Church, after he arrived in 1862.
A massive influx of Irish miners necessitated the construction of a larger brick church across the street in 1870. The spire measured 127 feet, six inches from the ground to the top of the cross. Its Gothic style interior was built of wood and plaster with carvings colored in white and gold. The twenty-one-foot-tall altar was imported from France. The church bell was the largest in the region. Its clapper weighed one hundred pounds.
Most of this structure was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1875. The St. Mary in the Mountains Church that stands today was rebuilt on the ruins of the former church. The spire was raised twelve feet, six inches higher than the previous one. A pipe was added to spray water over the roof in case of fire.
Maintenance of the church was neglected after 1897. In 1957, a group of Cistercian monks took over the church and removed most of the choir loft and ornate interiors because they were too worldly.
Restoration of the church began in 2008.
St. Mary in the Mountains is still a parish under the Diocese of Reno.
Source: online nevada encyclopedia.