THE CONGREGATION that became St. Francis Xavier parish has had several homes during its history. After meeting in its first years at St. Mary's Seminary on Paca Street, it moved in 1836 to a chapel on Richmond Street built by the Oblate Sisters of Providence.
Another move came in 1857 to St. Ignatius parish on Calvert Street. The white congregation worshiped in the main church and the basement was converted into the Chapel of Blessed Peter Claver for the African-American congregation.
Later, two Jesuits raised $6,000 for the purchase of a building at the corner of Calvert and Pleasant streets for the African-American congregation.
There, the parish was officially dedicated as St. Francis Xavier on Feb. 21, 1864.
The Jesuits continued to minister to the congregation until the arrival from England in 1871 of the Mill Hill Josephite Fathers, who had come with the specific mission of serving African-American Catholics. In 1893, the American Josephite Society separated from the Mill Hill Fathers and took over the parish. The Josephites remain there today.
When the city claimed some of St. Francis' property for the construction of a viaduct over Calvert Street, the parish moved to East Baltimore and took over a former Episcopalian church at Caroline and Eager streets in 1933.
It remained there until 1968, when St. Francis Xavier moved up the street to its present location, taking over the former St. Paul's parish at Caroline and Oliver streets.