|Mother Seton Statue||Saint Mary’s Chapel||Saint Mary’s Chapel||Orchard Street Church|
In the Seton Hill Historic District, just a few blocks west of the Washington Monument, is the Mother Seton House and Saint Mary’s Chapel. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first native-born U.S. citizen to be canonized by the Catholic Church, moved into the house with her five children on June 16, 1808. On the same day, French born architect Maximilian Godefroy’s Saint Mary’s Chapel was dedicated by America’s first bishop, John Carroll, in the adjoining yard. A year later Mrs. Seton would move her family to Emmitsburg, MD where she eventually started the country’s first free school for girls and a thriving Catholic community. This statue sits just inside the fence to the right of the Mother Seton House at 600 North Paca Street and was designed by the St. Jude Liturgical Arts Studio.
Saint Mary’s Chapel has been operating as a religious institution for over 200 years and is incredibly well-maintained. Designed by Maximilian Godefroy, who also created the city’s Battle Monument and First Unitarian Church, the humble structure is deceptively elegant. Surrounding the property is a large peaceful park where the seminary once stood, adding a countryside context to the historic site.
Two blocks west at 512 Orchard Street is the Orchard Street Church. Founded in 1825 by Truman Pratt, the church was used extensively as an Underground Railroad stop. A near mile long tunnel can apparently be toured by appointment.