St. Mary the Immaculate Conception

212 Elizabeth Street • Derby, CT • New Haven County

Historical Significance

On September 10, 1833, the first Irish Catholics landed on the Derby docks. A late nineteenth century history of Derby states that, "A son of Erin at that time was rather a curiosity for the denizens of the town. Michael Stokes, Patrick Quinn, John Regan, Farrell Reilly, and others soon followed the first until their numbers were legion."

Photo: View northwest showing south elevation and façade. (Tod Bryant)

The first Catholic Mass within the limits of the city of Derby was offered by Father McDermott in 1880 with 28 persons present. The first Catholic Church in Derby was built in 1845 near the site of the present building on land donated by Anson G. Phelps, founder of the town.

Irish immigrants built a small church there, fifty feet by thirty-three feet, with room for the congregation of less than one hundred. The Irish Catholic population of the town increased dramatically after the Great Hunger of 1845-1852, and construction of a new and larger building began in March of 1882. The current building was dedicated on November 21, 1883.


Beardsley, Ambrose and Samuel Orcutt. The History of the Old Town of Derby Connecticut, 1642-1880. Springfield, Mass. : Press of Springfield Printing Co. 1880.

"Parish History." St. Mary the Immaculate Conception.

Notable Features of Building or Site

This is an end gable building that faces east onto Elizabeth Street. It sits atop a low rise on an ashlar granite foundation and its three bay facade is dominated by a square central tower with buttresses surmounted by finials and a spire. Brick buttresses surmounted by finials define the north and south edges of the façade.

Entrances surrounded by Gothic arches are centered in the tower and flanking bays; they are reached by flights of granite stairs. A Gothic stained glass window is centered on the tower above the entrance.

Interrelationship of Building and Surroundings

The church is in a residential neighborhood of mostly late nineteenth and early twentieth century homes.

Additional Information

Date(s):  Built 1883
Style(s):  Gothic Revival
Historic Use:  Church
Present Use:  Church
Architect:  Patrick Keely

Exterior visible from public road.
Interior accessible (during services).

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