Dedicated on February 21, 1864, St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church was the first black parish in the U.S. The church originated in the 1790s due to the efforts of the Sulpician Fathers and the Oblate Sisters of Providence to provide education and religious services for the black Catholic refugees from San Domingo.
Father Peter L. Miller formally founded the church in 1864 in a historical building on the corner of Calvert and Pleasant Streets. This structure, pictured below, once served as the First Universalist Church and later housed such historic meetings as the 1844 Whig nomination of Henry Clay, the 1848 Democratic nomination of General Cass, and an 1861 attempt to withdraw Maryland from the Union.
On December 10, 1871, the Josephite fathers, a religious community dedicated to working among blacks, took charge of the church. Subsequently the church founded several other parishes, including St. Monica's, St. Peter Claver, and Christ the King. One of the most notable members of St. Francis Xavier Church was Father Charles Randolph Uncles, the first black priest ordained in the U.S. Construction of the Orleans Street Viaduct forced the church to move to new quarters on Caroline Street in 1933. In 1968, the church moved to its present site. This church was designed in the French Renaissance style by John Stack and Sons in 1902.