Built St. Louis > > Historic City Churches > > St. Joseph Church

Shrine of St. Joseph

St. Joseph's is a lone survivor in an area that has been overtaken by creeping industrial redevelopment, then leveled for new residential in the 1980s. Today the church stands amid handsome urban housing on quiet streets -- an unfortunately isolated island among the light industry and vacant land north of downtown.

The exterior is relatively unremarkable, its workmanlike facade belying the astonishing interior within. The twin towers, one of which still awaits restoration, were capped with domes sporting clocks and cupolas until 1954.

The church's true treasure is the decor of its sanctuary -- at once overwhelming and harmonious. A flurry of colors and shades comes together beautifully; endless stencils and paintings work as a unified ensemble. An enormous guilded alter stands at the end of the nave, erected in thanks for the end of a cholora epidemic. Details of the incident, as well as the building's history and the miracle reported to have occurred there, maybe found on the church's web site.

The church has been painstakingly restored by its remaining congregants and concerned St. Louisians, headed by architect Tom Wofford. The restoration, begun in the late 1970s and still ongoing, has taken the interior from a state of advanced decay to a spectacular reflection of the Victorian era.

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