Lancaster's first church was the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, established in 1887 by Father Patrick Bannon. James P. Ward had donated the land for the church, with all parishioners participating in its construction. Construction began in 1886 and was completed in 1890. Originally it was built to seat 150 people.
Before the construction of this church, the Antelope Valley was served by priests from San Buenaventura Mission in Ventura throughout the 1870s. Father Bannon was pastor at St. Malachy's in Tehachapi during the 1880s, making frequent trips to Lancaster to celebrate Mass, eventually leading to the establishment of the Sacred Heart Church.
Several other pastors also served at Sacred Heart Church in the 1890s and 1900s. Father Joseph Wanner served as a pastor in 1907 while he lived at St. Malachy's, and Father John Meehan was named as pastor in 1916, eventually moving into the rectory built next to the church. Sacred Heart saw a series of different priests and pastors from 1921-1928 until Father Charles Kennedy was named as pastor in 1928. He would serve the Sacred Heart Church for 40 years until he died in 1968.
Sacred Heart Church held their first barbecue event in August of 1932, open to Catholics and non-Catholics alike. The barbecue quickly became a communal tradition that is still celebrated today, with this year's event being the church's 85th annual barbecue.
In 1936 the church was enlarged to accommodate it's growing parish and was in use until 1956. On October 28, 1956, a new larger church building was opened and still remains in use.
"Gurba, Norma H. Lancaster. Arcadia, 2005.
Photo courtesy of MOAH Collections"