Church of the Nativity

210 Oak Grove Ave., Menlo Park, California


Church of the Nativity

Photo from the Historic American Buildings Survey

View photos at Library of Congress



A year after the closing of St. Dennis Church, the first Catholic Church in the area, in 1871, this church was built as a mission. It gained the status of a parish church in 1877. The building, originally known as St. Bridget's, is one of the finest wood-framed churches in the county. The first school classes in Menlo Park were held at this church. Founded in 1872, this church was built as a mission, becoming a parish church five years later. Originally 36' x 67', the church was moved to its present site in 1878 after a brief intermediate stop. In 1887, the church was raised on a brick foundation and the transept and sanctuary were added, roughly doubling the size of the building. The rose window was added in 1900. The strict Gothic Revival form and details demonstrate a remarkable adherence to an older architectural idiom, perhaps in a deliberate attempt to blend the numerous additions with the original church building, as evidenced by: the symmetrical plan, central front tower, lancet windows, decorative wood buttresses, trefoil tracery, and a generally understated, minimal use of ornamentation. Even the latest additions in the rear are carefully incorporated into the overall Gothic form. The three part nave is spanned by a series of hammer beam trusses of redwood. Stained glass leaded windows line the walls dominated by an elaborate rose window set above the altar. The church has always acted as an educational, social, and religious center of Menlo Park, and remains today as a beautifully integrated history of the architecture and civic concern of the parish. -- Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS CA-1995)

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on October 31, 1980
Reference number
Areas of significance
Education; Architecture; Religion
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic function
Religious structure
Current function
Religious structure
Periods of significance
1875-1899; 1850-1874
Significant years
1872; 1887