In July 1897, following the establishment
of a Cathedral Committee and the initiation of a massive fund raising
drive, Bishop Wigger invited several prominent architects to submit
proposals for the new Cathedral, including the New York based firms
of O'Connor and Metcalf. Ansley Brothers, Schickel and Ditmars,
along with Jeremiah O'Rourke and Sons of Newark. On November 11
of that same year, the Committee, after carefully reviewing all
four plans, awarded the contract to O'Rourke. The O'Rourke church
was conceived of in the English-Irish Gothic style, which would
be modified later by O'Rourke's successor. Physical dimensions,
however, remained constant over the long years of construction.
Hence, the building as it is measured today -- length, three hundred
sixty-five feet; nave width (center of column to center of column),
fifty feet -- is the same as O'Rourke envisioned it at the turn
of the century.
In accepting the commission, O'Rourke
pledged to Bishop Wigger that the work would be "a labor of
love and not of fees and profits. "