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St Joseph Catholic (Photos)

Original church / school looking north from Virginia at side
Original church / school looking north from Virginia at side

The demolition of St Joe's rectory a few weeks back surprised a lot of people, and with the Catholic diocese undergoing a strategic planning, let's highlight St Joseph Catholic over its 100+ years of existence.

Postcard of St Joseph Catholic church with its iconic green roof

St Joseph was the 7th Catholic parish in Evansville established in 1905 at the corner of Virginia and Garvin. It was formed in response to the growing northeast side or what is known to many as the Jimtown area. Land for the church was from the old Catholic Cemetery, which was relocated years earlier in the 1870s. The cemetery moved to Perry Township out on Mesker Park Dr and burials were eventually relocated from the
old cemetery to the new one. Originally a school was built fronting Garvin St, and it also served as the church. Other Catholic parishes like St Ben's, St Agnes, and Sacred Heart did this too to save on initial costs. After becoming established the church designed and built the present church in 1923. As a side note, St Joe is often referred to as St Joe in the city; not to be confused with St Joseph Catholic in German Township.

A rectory at the corner was built 1906 in what appears to be Prarie style. The building was bricked up considerably around 1960 (if not even rebuilt) as the structure was barely recognizable from earlier photos.

Plans to build a church began around 1923 and the Romanesque church was completed in 1924. A signature green tile roof set the church apart from its neighbors.

A teachers' residence was built 1928 next to the church (to the right/east).

In 1954 a new school was built behind (east of) the old one. Once completed the original structure was razed to complete the gym. The new school officially opened 1955.

In 1987 the school closed. A failed merge between it and St Anthony's School (Ascension School) put an end to parochial schools in this part of the city. Catholic students would have to transfer elsewhere for education.

In recent years, the tile was replaced with a metal roof, though it retained its iconic green color--a little brighter green in this author's opinion. Also the school was leased to Jacob's Academy. That school relocated to the old Howard Roosa, and the school is largely vacant. The rectory was recently demolished possibly in an effort to cut costs on unused buildings. Let's hope the parish continues to thrive and survive into its second century of existence.


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