National Trust of Guyana

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

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Location: Stabroek, Georgetown

Classification: Religious 

Period/ Year Built: 1927

Historical Background / Description:

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, also known as the Brickdam Cathedral, is located on Brickdam, Stabroek, Georgetown. The cathedral is one of the first Ferro-concrete structures to be built in the then British colony. The church replaced St. Mary’s Cathedral which was destroyed by fire in 1913. Mere hours after the cathedral was completely destroyed there were calls to have it rebuilt. Fundraising activities for the new church commenced on March 9, 1913, when the Mayor of Georgetown, Mr. Francis Dias convened a meeting at the Town Hall chambers. It was at this meeting it was suggested that the new building be built of stone, steel or reinforced concrete. 

The design of English architect Mr. Leonard Stokes was selected after his and several other British architects’ designs were submitted. Construction of the new church started in 1914 and its foundation was a large Ferro-concrete raft which also served as the floor. The materials used to construct the structure were mostly from Guyana; the granite came from the Dalga and Wolga quarries in the Essequibo River and the sand came from Leguan. The steel and cement were imported into the colony. 

By 1921, the external walls of the cathedral which rose to the height of 24.4 metres (80 feet) were completed. The new church, though incomplete, was blessed on March 13, 1921. The eastern portion of the building was opened for public worship on December 13, 1925. On April 30, 1927, the church was completed with a height of 60.96 metres (200 feet), and a width of 30.48 metres (100 feet). There were plans to have a tower with a rise of 43.9 metres (144 feet) and a spire of 10.97 metres (36 feet), however this never materialized. 

The sole remnant of the original cathedral, is an iron statue of Our Lady. This was mounted on the western façade of the new structure. The interior of the church is accentuated by a marble high altar, which was erected in 1930; it was a gift to Bishop Galton from Pope Pius XI. In 1938, three other permanent altars, the Sacred Heart, Our Lady and St. Joseph, were installed. In 1939, a marble pulpit, a memorial to the Fogarty’s family, was donated to the cathedral. On October 10, 1960, Reverend Richard Lester Guilly consecrated the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.