HISTORICAL POSTCARDS OF SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI
St. Joseph's Catholic Church
In 1892 the Reverend Father L. Porta, pastor of the Immaculate Conception Church in Springfield, died. The bishop of Kansas City thought this would be a good time to help create a church for German Roman Catholics in Springfield. Mr. Charles H. Heer, a prominent Springfield citizen and owner of Heer's Department Store donated a house and lot on the corner of Chestnut and Jefferson streets. He stipulated that both a church for German Catholics and a higher education institution for youth be formed. With the help of other German Catholics a three-story brick building was erected in 1893. The new building cost about 5,000 dollars and served as both church and college. Well-known Springfield cabinetmaker and undertaker August Lohmeyer built the altar for the church. At the same time the church opened, a parochial school with about 25 students was opened in a small building changed from a stable to a schoolhouse. The Sisters of St. John's Hospital ran the school.
By 1894 the parochial school had outgrown its space so Charles H. Heer approved the turning of the college into a parochial school. Heer died in April of 1898 and left in his will $15,000 for the erection of a new church and $1,000 for the parochial school. In the fall of 1904 a site at the corner of Campbell and Scott Streets was purchased for 2,400 dollars. The cornerstone for the new building was laid on June 5, 1905. On Thanksgiving Day, 1906 the new church was dedicated. In April 1907, three additional lots on Scott Street were bought and a new St. Joseph's School was built. It opened in the fall of 1908.
In 1992 the church held a centennial celebration. Twenty-one women of the church made a magnificent hand-embroidered quilt featuring such things as the Ten Commandments, hands in prayer and Jesus dying on the cross. It is on display at the church.
According to the Church of the Week column for an August 1996 News-Leader, St. Joseph Catholic Church had 375 households as parishioners at that time. The church, at 1115 North Campbell Avenue, also runs the St. Joseph Grade School, which serves kindergarten to eighth grade, and a preschool for younger students.