St. Joseph Church
On April 20, 1900, Saint Joseph Church was erected as part of a territorial parish from the territories of Saint Mary Parish (New Haven), Saint Patrick Parish (New Haven), and Saint Francis Parish (Fair Haven). The new and sizable congregation had been ably served since 1894 at a Lawrence Street chapel. Having combined the territories of these three neighboring parishes, a new church building was planned to house the sizable congregation serving primarily Italian immigrant families. Overseen by Reverend M.J. Daly and designed by Joseph A. Jackson, the church was constructed between 1904 and 1905 on Edwards Street. St. Joseph Church was and is a vital part of New Haven’s Orange Street Historic District. The finalized church was dedicated on October 22, 1905.
Located in the heart of the East Rock area of New Haven on 129 Edwards Street, the church bears a remarkable resemblance to the Basilica of Saint Apollinaris in Classe, Ravenna, Italy (c. 553-49). The yellow brick Romanesque edifice leads into the king’s hall (basilica) or the emperor’s court which reflects the Byzantine art and culture of the 6th century that attempted to convey the religious truth that only Christ is the ruler and emperor of the universe. When one steps inside St. Joseph Church, eyes are drawn to the altar and then upwards to the painted mural (representing the mosaic style of the early Byzantine art) consisting of the Lamb of God leading the flock to and through the crucifixion to the heavenly kingdom of Christ the eternal King.
In the 2000s, signs of distress of the 130-foot bell tower at the southeast corner of the entry façade became apparent. Reconstruction of a portion of the exterior masonry at the bell tower was repaired, protecting the one-hundred-year-old structure for future generations of worshippers.
St. Joseph Church continues to lend itself to the historic fabric of its diverse neighborhoods and its importance to the communities of New Haven.