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Winter Texans: 1859 St. Joseph's Church Tours

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St Joseph's Church

2202 Avenue K

Galveston, TX 77550

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The oldest German Catholic Church in Texas and the oldest wooden church building in Galveston, St. Joseph’s was built by German immigrants in 1859-60. Bishop John Odin, the first Catholic bishop of Texas, recommended that a church be built for the German-speaking Catholics of the growing city. The church was dedicated in April 1860, to St. Joseph, the patron saint of laborers.

The building is a simple wooden gothic revival structure, rectangular with a square bell tower with trefoil window. The softly painted interior features a coffered ceiling with painted quatrefoils and other gothic symbols, plaster of Paris Stations of the Cross with German inscriptions dating from the early years of the 20th century and the original, elaborate main and side altars with reredos as well as many of the original statues and altar furnishings.

Although the exterior of the frame building is a simple gothic revival design, the interior is surprisingly ornate. The church features painted wood walls, the original grained-painted cedar pews, hand-carved altars, plaster Stations of the Cross and a beautifully coffered ceiling painted with quatrefoils and other gothic symbols.

Although damaged in the 1900 Storm, the church was repaired within the year, retaining much of its original architectural character. The side rooms were added at this time. The church was raised 2 1/2 feet during the grade raising. St. Joseph’s was an active parish until 1968 when the church was closed and its contents sold at public auction. Upon learning that the building was to be used as a warehouse, Galveston Historical Foundation stepped in and leased the property. Most of the original furnishings were recovered, re-installed, and the structure stabilized.

Restoration of the church is an ongoing project of Galveston Historical Foundation. Today, St. Joseph’s Church is one of the four oldest church buildings in Galveston and the oldest German Catholic Church building in Texas. It is one of the few pre-Civil War buildings left on Galveston Island.

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St Joseph's Church

2202 Avenue K

Galveston, TX 77550

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