When Poste du Rapides was established in Pineville the Catholic mission of St. Louis des Apalachees was founded. Mass was said in private homes in the new town of Alexandria. A chapel built in 1817 was the first church of any denomination in this city. St. Francis Xavier Church was built in 1834 on Front Street. Rev. Leonard Menard envisioned a larger place of worship. The cornerstone of the present edifice was laid on the Feast of St. Francis Xavier, December 3, 1895. A few weeks later the original church burned. The first Mass was celebrated in this Gothic Revival structure November 27, 1899. Sand for mortar was dug from the Red River bed and floors of native pine were laid. In 1907 the belfry was added: the clock installed the following year. The Rectory, first built in 1896, was extensively renovated in 1930. St. Francis Xavier Academy, erected in 1897, was remodeled and enlarged in 1907. Bishop Cornelius Van de Ven petitioned Rome to transfer the See city from Natchitoches to centrally located Alexandria. Thus, on August 6, 1910, St. Francis Xavier Church became the Cathedral. These 3 buildings are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Cathedral complex.