Prominent layman John O’Rorke donated land to the Catholic Diocese for the O'Rorke Catholic Cemetery, the oldest historic resource in the city associated with Raleigh’s Catholic community. A small number of Catholics lived in early nineteenth-century Raleigh, but it was not until about 1832 that a congregation was established, due in part to an increase in Irish tradesmen working on the new State Capitol and living in the area. The city's first Catholic church, the Church of St. John the Baptist, was dedicated in 1834, a time when prevailing Protestant thought often made life difficult for Catholics.

Due to vandalism or the relocation of stones to other cemeteries, the cemetery retains twelve monuments and plot borders dating from 1865 to about 1931. The cemetery operated as Raleigh’s Catholic cemetery from 1858 to 1931; in 1938 the cemetery was ceded to the city for the burial of itinerants and the “less fortunate.” Beginning in 1941 the city operated the property as a paupers’ graveyard until the cemetery was fully utilized in 1986.

Photo by B. Fullington, Capital City Camera Club
Courtesy of Preservation North Carolina 


1101 Pender Street
Local/National Designations
Raleigh Historic Landmark


This entry is about Historic Resources in Raleigh. Initial information provided by the Raleigh Historic Development Commission. You can find more entries about Raleigh's historic resources here