The first church built on the site of today’s Shrine of the Immaculate Conception dates back to 1848, making the shrine Atlanta’s oldest religious establishment.
Although seriously damaged during the Civil War, the church was spared by the Union army, thanks to its priest. Father Thomas O’Reilly, who gave aid to soldiers from both sides during the war, warned a Union general destroying the church would result in desertions from their many Catholics.
Following the war, a new Gothic Revival-style church was built. The church was rededicated as a shrine in 1954 and still has regular mass services today.