St. Joseph Catholic Church in Dayton Ohio was founded in 1846 by Father Patrick O’Mealy, a native of Limerick, Ireland. It was formed by primarily Irish Catholics and separated from the city’s only Catholic Church, Emmanuel.
On November 1, 1846, Father O’Mealy held a meeting with the English-speaking parishioners living on the East Side of Dayton. Before the month was out they had purchased two lots, 100 by 150 feet, for the sum of $2,000. Since the English-speaking parishioners had worshipped on the right side of Emmanuel where the statue of St. Joseph was located, the name “Saint Joseph” was chosen for the new parish.
By 1905, the old church had served the parishioners well for sixty years. It was time for a new larger church – a church more expressive of the piety and generosity of the people. And so a proposition was unanimously passed to begin building a new church for the parish on April 30. By early summer of 1908, $30,000 had been secured through donations. Enough funds to award the firm McGinnis and Walsh of Boston, the job of designing the new church. However, a temporary church would have to be found while the new church was under construction. A gentleman of the parish donated the use of a lot on Sears Street on which a temporary structure could be erected. On Easter Sunday in 1909, the last Mass was celebrated in the old church. In one week’s time, the temporary structure was ready. The workers had moved and set in place the windows, pews, doors, and altars from the old church. These familiar items made the transition easier for the people of St. Joseph.
In May, the old church was torn down and construction began. Archbishop H. K. Moeller laid the original cornerstone of St. Joseph Church. It was placed at the northwest angle at the far side of the bell tower. The dates of both the old and new church (1847 and 1909) are carved in the stone.
Our current church was built in the architectural style of Italian Byzantine. The artistic virtues of this ecclesiastical type reside in its stateliness, simplicity and detail, which the pre-Christian architects lacked. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the new church is the position of the tower, which instead of being placed at the front, is set back towards the sanctuary. The steel pillars are finished in plaster then coated in scagliola resembling marble columns. St. Joseph Church without memorials cost $95,700. In June of 1910, Father William Hickey approached the parishioners with the idea of donating articles for the new church as a perpetual memorial. He reserved the three Archangel windows above the altar as his gift at a cost of $400 each.
Learn more about the history of St. Joseph Church.