The following history was written at an unknown date and discovered in the parish archives.
Rev. Peter Havemans was the founder of St. Joseph’s Church. The corner stone was laid May 2, 1847. The sermon was given by Archbishop John Joseph Hughes.
The first Mass was said by Fr. Havemans on All Saints Day, 1848. A few weeks later, the church and parish was transferred to the care of the Society of Jesus.
The first pastor was Rev. Peter Verheyden, SJ and the first baptism was December 24, 1848.
In the beginning, the parish boundary lines started at the Postenkill Creek and extended to the city line. These lines existed until St. Michael’s Church was built in 1873-74. However, the pastor of St. Michael’s resided at St. Joseph’s until 1883.
The organ was purchased in 1852. Dr. Thomas J. Guy, choir director and renowned composer, was organist from 1853 until 1900. The organ was electrified in the early 1900s and in 1924 the power was changed from water to blower. Between 1940 and 1973 the organ was inoperable. A complete rebuilding program was started in that year and extended for several years. A pedal division remains to be installed. This most painstaking endeavor was undertaken by the present organist and choir director Paul D. Carey.
The church was dedicated November 6, 1853. Statues of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady of Lourdes were purchased by Fr. Joseph Loyzance, Pastor, and blessed after solemn vespers on March 11, 1877 by Bishop McNierny. (Fr. Loyzance purchased the site at Auriesville in 1884 and the first pilgrimage was from St. Joseph’s in August 1885.
A renovation and refurbishing started by the Jesuits was continued after they left in 1900.The new pastor was Fr. James Curtin. This included heating, electricity, etc.
The church is cruciform in shape, Gothic, somewhat on the style of the 13th century.
The wainscoting of the vestibule is green and white marble, the floor mosaic tile, the pews and wainscoting in the church, carved oak.
The stations were imported from Munich.
The windows are Tiffany of Farrile glass and are taken from the paintings of Titian, Rubens, Bouguereau, Hoffman, Plockhorst and Landill. Starting at the transept, from the north wall are four scenes from the life of St. Joseph. On the left, the betrothal of St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin and the Flight into Egypt. On the right, the Protection of the Holy Family and the Death of St. Joseph.
In the sanctuary, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, on the right of the main altar, opposite is the Sacred Heart of Mary, after the painting of the celebrated French artist Deger.
The three windows in the transept on the left are; the large central one Titians, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, below are grouped the Apostles. On the right is the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, on the left the Nativity of Our Lord.
Down the aisle; the Adoration of the Magi, The presentation in the Temple, Jesus in the midst of the Doctors and Jesus in the Workshop at Nazareth.
Either side of the Organ Loft are Angels singing the praises of the King.
Continuing: Jesus at the Veil, Jesus Blessing Little Children, Jesus saving St. Peter on the waves, Jesus the Good Shepherd.
Opposite the Assumption is the Glorious Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven, below the Disciples. On the right, the Agony in the Garden. On the left, the Crucifixion.
Noon is the best tine to see the radiance of the windows.
The Communion rail and pillars are of onyx and burnished brass. On the right of the main Altar the chancel pew of Oak in 1902 was said to be the finest piece of earned workmanship in the diocese.
The Main Altar was built of purest statuary marble and onyx. DeVinci’s Last Supper is carved of Italian Carrara marble. The Tabernacle door design is a pelican. On the Gospel side of the main Altar is the Altar of the Sacred Heart and on the Epistle side of the Altar of the blessed Virgin. All are the works of the American Marble Company of Fair Haven, Vermont.
Altars, railing, Confessionals, pews, Ols wainscoting, windows, stations, and Holy Water font were gifts of parishioners. Our congregation has always been credited with willing and cheerful generosity even to this day we are within $17,000 of our New Beginning goal of $250,000 at which time a cross on top of the Church will again be lit.
Sometime between 1902-1912, the Pulpit and baptistry was added, a description follows.
The pulpit was made in Carrara and is of very unique design. The Central panel represents in sculpture the sermon of Our Lord upon the Mount, after the painting of Hoffman. The sermon itself, the eight beatitudes, is in highly ornamental Venetian mosaic, and with the panel of Our Lord’s preaching, represents a continual sermon to the people. It was the intention in making this design on the pulpit that the great sermon, as preached by our Lord himself, should be constantly before the minds of the people, and also become a reminder to those who preach that it should always be God’s word.
The Baptistry is a separate room between the parish house and the Church, with an entrance from the Street. The baptismal font itself, as represented in this cut, is a work of art made of Carrara narble and onyx, with an ornamental bronze covering the floor of the baptistry is of Venetian mosaic, representing the symbols of St. John Baptist, namely, the Dove coming from heaven on which occasion the voice was heard from heaven. “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” On either side of this window is Raphael’s “Madonna of the Chair” the mother, the infant Saviour and John the Baptist, and Botticelli’s “Madonna, Infant and John the Baptist.” The lower panels of this great window represent three paintings by Murillo: The Centre, The Adoration of St. Elizabeth and child John the Baptist, the infant held by the mother, this center portion being flanked by the Child Jesus, with a lamb and the Infant Saviour giving water to the infant, John the Baptist. The baptistry itself is of highly Gothic design with a beautiful arranged Gothic ceiling in keeping with the decoration of the Church.
The Church by 1909 was free of debt and a solemn consecration was held on May 22nd.
The chimes were installed in 1924 with the clavier mechanism by the Keneely Bell Foundry of Troy. (this has been donated to the Rensselaer County Historical Society). They were electrified in 1949 by the Verdin Company.
The Sacristry windows were added at a later date then those in the Church but at this time that information has not been discerned. The Church was redecorated later, replacing the pendant light fixtures with the present ones and recovering the floor in the process.
In 1970, St. Joseph’s became a Carmelite Community.
St. Joseph’s Church
Founded – 1847
416 Third Street (Third & Jackson)
Troy, NY 12180