Saint Joseph
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Saint Joseph's Church and Shrine
8743 US-12, Brooklyn - Lenawee County
Property Type church
Historic Use RELIGION/religious facility
Current Use RELIGION/religious facility
Style Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival
Architect/Builder Dionicio Rodriquez
Narrative Description Saint Joseph's Church and Shrine consists of a church edifice and a shrine dedicated to the stations of the cross. The church is presently a cruciform-plan, single-story, hipped roof structure constructed of semi-coursed fieldstone. The facade's effect is determined by a central, three-story, partially engaged entrance tower. Paired entry doors are capped by a round-arch transom, while the entry vestibule is surmounted by a belfry displaying paired, round-arch louvers that support a hipped roof unite pierced by single, centered, round-arch louvers and capped by a cross. The side elevations are six bays deep and present flat-topped stained glass windows. A single-story, gabled addition, constructed of fieldstone to blend with the original edifice, extends from the west elevation. The shrine component of the complex consists of a crucifixion scene of Carrara marble carved in the late 1920s and a series of stations of the cross commenced in 1932. Artisans employed concrete and stone to erect symbols of Christ's walk to Calvary. Components include Pilate's palace and courtyard, narrow cobblestone streets, balconied houses, and arches representing old Jerusalem, an image of the Judgement Gate, as well as a tomb, and masonry crosses, nails, and ropes recalling biblically-inspired scenes and themes.
Statement of Significance St. Joseph's Shrine traces its origins to a missionary church whose construction began in 1854, although the first formal service was not celebrated until 1863. The edifice was reputedly erected under the direction of John Lambert, who had supervised construction of a number of schoolhouses in the area. The first resident priest arrived in 1954. St. Joseph's Church was originally a simple, gabled structure almost totally lacking adornment. It has been altered several times, beginning with the addition of the tower, sacristy, and stained glass windows in 1911. In 1928 the tower was enlarged during more extensive alterations that also raised the height of the walls, and added a new roof, transepts, and sanctuary, effectively creating the church visible today. In addition, red tile sheathed the new roof and a Spanish Mission theme was extended to the interior of the church through use of mosaic, tile, and wrought iron. The way of the cross shrine was begun in 1932 and was completed under supervision of Leo Ouelette, but two Mexican artisans, Dionicio Rodriguez and Ralph Corona, created the steps, archways, and railings sculpted from wet cement to resemble stone and timber. St. Joseph's Shrine consists of one of the earliest surviving church edifices in the Irish Hills area, a virtually unique masonry folk art assemblage created by Mexican artisans, and is associated with a pioneer Catholic parish and cemetery.
Marker Name St. Joseph's Church / St. Joseph's Shrine
Marker Text ST. JOSEPH'S CHURCH St. Joseph's Church originated as a missionary church during the 1850s. Priests from Adrian, Clinton, Manchester, Tecumseh and Monroe served the parish until the first resident priest arrived in 1954. The original church, which is still part of the present structure, was constructed in 1854 by Irish pioneers. In 1863 the first Mass was held in the church. The tower and stained-glass windows were added in 1911. In 1928, Father Joseph Pfeffer from St. Mary's in Manchester served here and oversaw the enlargement and remodeling of the church to its present form. The transept was built and nave enlarged, transforming the church to a cruciform plan. The red tile roof, the tower and the use of mosaic, tile and wrought iron in the interior give the church its Spanish Mission flavor. ST. JOSEPH'S SHRINE As part of the 1928 expansion of St. Joseph's Church, a shrine--inspired by the grotto at Our Lady of Lourdes in France--was designed. In 1932 work began on the fourteen outdoor stations of the cross, which depict scenes of the Via Dolorosa (the sorrowful way), that Jesus walked to Calvary. The footpath begins at a replica of Pontius Pilate's palace then winds past balconied houses, through the judgment gate and ends at Christ's tomb. The crucifixion scene is sculpted from Carrara marble. Two Mexican artisans, Dionicio Rodriquez and Ralph Corona, under the supervision of Leo Ouelette, sculpted the steps, archways and railings from wet cement to resemble stone and timber.
Period of Significance 1826-1865
Significant Date(s) 1863, 1928
Registry Type(s) 07/15/1991 Marker erected
04/19/1990 State Register listed
Site ID# P23933