Masqueray’s masterpiece

| February 26, 2015 | 0 Comments
Masqueray

Masqueray

According to local historian Alan Lathrop’s 1980 profile of Emmanuel Louis Masqueray for Minnesota History magazine, the architect was “virtually unknown” in 1904, at the time Archbishop John Ireland commissioned the 43-year-old to design the Cathedral of St. Paul. His prior claims to fame included work as chief assistant for the formidable East-coast architect Richard Morris Hunt and a chief of design for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, but he had never endeavored to design a monument nearing the cathedral’s scope.

He met Archbishop Ireland at the fair, and less than a year later, found himself at the helm of the ambitious cathedral project, and shortly thereafter, its co-cathedral, the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. He died of an illness in 1917, two years after the cathedral’s exterior was completed, but before interior work was finished.

In addition to the cathedral and basilica, Masqueray designed several area Catholic churches, including St. Louis, King of France, downtown St. Paul (1909); the University of St. Thomas chapel (1918); and Incarnation, Minneapolis (1920). He also designed cathedrals in Sioux Falls, S.D., and Wichita, Kan.; local Protestant churches; Catholic churches in neighboring dioceses; and residences.

In his 12 years in St. Paul, Masqueray went from “unknown” to the artist behind one of Minnesota’s most iconic buildings. “His name will live enshrined in a great cathedral,” wrote Dubuque Archbishop James J. Keane, upon news of the architect’s death. “He will be remembered gratefully for having evoked an appreciation and created a demand for the truly artistic in, even, small churches.”

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Category: Cathedral Centennial