By the late 1800s, the opportunities offered by Wilmington’s expanding economy made it a desirable destination for persons from Italy seeking freedom and prosperity. Settlement accelerated in the early 20th century, and in 1924, the Bishop of Wilmington appointed Father J. Francis Tucker, OSFS to establish a parish for the city’s rapidly growing Italian community. There would be no physical boundaries to the parish, so that it could serve all those unified by Italian culture and heritage. Father Tucker and his building committee began fundraising immediately. On Christmas Eve 1924, the parish gathered together for the first time to celebrate Midnight Mass in a temporary chapel which had been constructed. On January 4, 1925 St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church was formally incorporated, and on March 8, ground was broken for the present place of worship. Many parishioners were highly skilled artisans, and their talents are reflected in this impressive Italianate edifice. One year later, on Palm Sunday, the first Mass was celebrated in the new building. On June 13, 1926, the church was officially dedicated during the Feast of St. Anthony. The bell tower was completed in 1938, and stained glass windows were added in 1940. St. Anthony of Padua Church was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

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LOCATION: 1715 West 9th Street, Wilmington.