Welcome to St. Mary’s Historic Site on Paca Street!

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St. Mary’s Historic Site is a unique place, both in its history of the Catholic Church in the United States and in its contemporary spiritual ministry. Located at 600 North Paca Street, St. Mary’s Historic Site is home to two buildings on the National Register of Historic Places: the Mother Seton House and the Historic Seminary Chapel. The site is also home to St. Mary’s Spiritual Center.

Historic Site

Mother Seton House • Historic Seminary Chapel • Visitor Center

Mother Seton House

In 1791, at the invitation of Bishop John Carroll, the Sulpician Fathers arrived in the City of Baltimore and settled on this very site to begin the first Roman Catholic Seminary in the United States. Bishop Carroll knew of the Sulpician Fathers’ unique ministry of priestly formation from their ministry in France, and thus he invited them to come to his young diocese in the United States to do their ministry of priestly formation in this new land. The seminary, founded in 1791, was initially located in a building on the southeast corner of the property known as the One Mile Tavern. With the help of Bishop John Carroll and others, the Sulpicians were able to purchase additional property adjoining the One Mile Tavern and build St. Mary’s College and Seminary.

The only remaining structure of the seminary is the Historic Chapel. The building of the chapel began in 1806 and was completed and dedicated in 1808. The chapel was designed by the renowned French architect Maximilian Godefroy, who himself was a friend of Benjamin Latrobe, often referred to as the Father of American Architecture. The chapel attracts architectural students as well as pilgrims to the site.

The other historic building located on the site is the of home of Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton. In 1975, Mother Seton, as she is commonly known, became the first U.S.-born canonized saint within the Catholic Church. Mother Seton, a wife, mother, widow, convert, educator, and finally saint, offers a wonderful example of all that we can be with the grace of God. Mother Seton arrived at the Paca Street home the day of the dedication of the Seminary Chapel in 1808. She came to Baltimore at the invitation of Sulpician Father Louis W. DuBourg, who was then president of St. Mary’s College & Seminary. She, her three daughters, and several other girls called the Paca Street house their home for only one year, 1808 to 1809. During that year, she befriended a student at St. Mary’s named Samuel Cooper. Mr. Cooper, a man of resources, gave Elizabeth Bayley Seton eight thousand dollars with which she purchased St. Joseph’s Valley in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

In 1809 she left her humble roots on Paca Street and began her 3-day journey to Emmitsburg. While in Emmitsburg, once again under the tutelage of the Sulpician Fathers, Mother Seton began her new ministry of Catholic education. It was Sulpician Father Dubois who welcomed her to Emmitsburg and helped her become established in her new home. Her relocation to Emmitsburg was eased by the fact that the Sulpician Fathers were present as neighbors to her at Mount St. Mary’s College and Seminary, founded by the Sulpician Fathers in 1808. This institution and the presence of the Sulpician Fathers, gave great support and solace to the young widow and her dreams of founding a religious congregation and establishing a school for girls in Emmitsburg.

Clergy and Religious Please Note:

Letters of Suitability

In light of the provisions of canon 903 CIC and canon 703 §1 CCEO, and the USCCB Dallas Charter (2002), Letters of Suitability are required in advance by all clergy, deacons, and religious when performing ministerial duties at St. Mary’s Spiritual Center & Historic Site, Inc., 600 N. Paca Street, Baltimore, MD  21201.

Please direct all letters to:

Deacon Vito S. Piazza, Sr., Director
St. Mary’s Spiritual Center & Historic Site, Inc.
600 N. Paca Street
Baltimore, MD  21201

Tour Hours Resume

The site reopened for guests during regular hours on Monday, June 22, 2020.

Please also note that visitors will be required to wear a mask while on the premises.

Monday: Noon – 3:30 pm
Tuesday: Noon – 3:30 pm
Wednesday: Noon – 3:30 pm
Thursday: Noon – 3:30 pm
Friday: Noon – 3:30 pm
Saturday: 1 pm – 3 pm
Sunday: 1 pm – 3 pm

Winter Months:
The first concern of St. Mary’s on Paca Street is the safety of our visitors, guests, and docents.

Weekdays: If Baltimore County schools are closed, we will also be closed.

Weekends: If Baltimore City has a Snow Emergency Phase in effect or severe weather conditions are predicted for weekends, we will be closed those days.


John C. Kemper, PSS, Dies

Very Rev. John C. Kemper, P.S.S., who was instrumental in the restoration of the Historic Chapel and the building of the Visitor Center, died May 21 surrounded by family and friends.

Read the full obituary here.


For Information

St. Mary’s Spiritual Center & Historic Site
600 North Paca St.
Baltimore, MD 21201

Office Hours: 8:30 a.m-4:30 p.m.

Phone: +1 410-728-6464

Click to Email Us

St. Mary's Spiritual Center & Historic Site on Paca Street, Baltimore
St. Mary's Spiritual Center & Historic Site on Paca Street, Baltimore
Good Afternoon Friends and Benefactors.
Today we celebrate a very special day here at our Historic Site. It was on this date July 2nd 1829 that our Beloved Oblate Sisters of Providence were Co- founded by our own Sulpician Father James Hector Nicholas Joubert, P.S.S. and Elizabeth Lange .

The Oblate Sisters of Providence is the first successful Roman Catholic sisterhood in the world established by women of African descent. It was the work of a French-born Sulpician priest and four women, who were part of the Caribbean refugee colony which began arriving in Baltimore, Maryland in the late eighteenth century. Father James Hector Nicholas Joubert, SS, a Sulpician priest discovered it was difficult for the Haitian refugee children to master their religious studies because they were unable to read. He heard of two devout religious Caribbean women who were already conducting a school for black children in their home in Baltimore. In 1828 those two women, Elizabeth Lange (later Mother Mary Lange ) and Maria Balas accepted his proposal to start a sisterhood with the primary mission of teaching and caring for African American children. After adding two more women, Rosine Boegue and American-born Theresa Duchemin, they began studying to become sisters and opened a Catholic school for girls in their convent at 5 St. Mary's Ct. in Baltimore. Thus began St. Frances Academy. It is the oldest continuously operating school for black Catholic children in the United States and is still educating children in Baltimore.​​

The four novices in this pioneer society were forced to vacate their first house and moved to a rented house at 610 George St. in the city. Here in their chapel the four women took their vows and the first women religious order of women of African descent was officially founded on July 2, 1829. In December of that year the four sisters and the school moved to a rowhouse at 48 Richmond Street. This location would be the motherhouse for the order for the next thirty one years. In the next few years the order and school quickly outgrew the rowhouse and purchased some adjoining properties. A bigger school and new chapel were built in 1836. The new chapel is especially significant because it was not only for the use of the convent of the Oblate Sisters of Providence but was also used by Baltimore's black Catholics. This would be the first time American black Catholics had their own separate chapel for worship, baptisms, marriages, confirmations and funerals.
St. Mary's Spiritual Center & Historic Site on Paca Street, Baltimore
St. Mary's Spiritual Center & Historic Site on Paca Street, Baltimore
Good Morning Benefactors & Friends of Saint Mary's. Today we commemorate one of our distinguished Alumni Father Thomas Price founder of the Maryknolls.
On June 29,1911, Frs. Thomas F. Price and James A. Walsh, with the approval of the American hierarchy, received the final approval from Pope Pius X for the founding of a seminary for the training of young American men for foreign missions.
St. Mary's Spiritual Center & Historic Site on Paca Street, Baltimore
St. Mary's Spiritual Center & Historic Site on Paca Street, Baltimore