St Joseph’s Church
1901 – Brothers Adrian and Leonard
Original Location: 218 East 12th Street
Okay. The first thing you should know about St Joseph’s Church is that it isn’t there anymore. It burned down just before first Mass on September 4, 1983, due to a glitch in the subfloor wiring. No one was injured, and the adjacent rectory with its twenty-one Franciscan priests wasn’t damaged.
The roof collapsed, but the brick walls and the two five-story bell towers remained standing. Also, some things inside were spared, like the lead in the stained windows, a couple of statues and pictures, confessional doors, a few pews, and the antique vestments.
The Cultural Heritage Board tried to convince the archdiocese into at least incorporating the remaining steeples and walls into the planned replacement church, but, in mid-October, the city approved a demolition permit saying what was left of the old church was a safety hazard to the public.
GRAND DEDICATION FOR ST. JOSEPH’S CHURCH.B&W photo source: Los Angeles Department of City Planning
APOSTOLIC DELEGATE D. FALCONIA TO OFFICATE.
Church Dignitaries from South and West Will Be Present—Rich Interior Furnishings—Wonderful Fresco Work and Art Work from Europe.
Behind the closed and barred oak doors of the new St. Joseph’s Church, at the corner of Twelfth and Los Angeles streets, a great transformation scene is in progress.
The vast interiors of the great church is a labyrinth of trestles and scaffolding, reaching clear to the crown of the ceiling, sixty-two feet from the main floor. But peeping through the interstices and lattices of the heavy timbers, one may discover a wondrous work of gilt, and the deep tones of reds, greens, blues and yellows assembled with an artist’s touch into a magnificent whole.
This extensive fresco work, said to be the finest on the Coast, is being wrought out by Prof. William Kloer and his corps of assistants, who came from St. Louis, Mo., for this purpose. Prof. Kloer has spent years in this line of work, and has been in charge of the decoration of some of the finest Catholic buildings in the United States.
For almost three months these men have toiled on the extensive work at St. Joseph’s sometimes far into the night, and they count on a full three weeks of hard work yet before the frescoing will be completed. While the walls have been receiving most of the work, there are yet to be painted several scenes on canvas, which will adorn the great arches in the center of the ceiling. Two large medallions, eleven feet in circumference, will have the center spaces, on being a scene of St. Joseph blessing Pope Pius IX, and the other St. Francis receiving the indulgence.
A RICH INTERIOR
When all the appointments of the new St. Joseph’s Church are in place it is said there will be no finer church edifice on the Pacific Coast. The whole building is to cost $100,000, and aside from this the furnishings make no small item.
Seven beautiful altars will be placed in the new building. These have been made in Munich, and are now in New York. They are of white walnut, and finished in white and gold. The main altar, of pure Gothic design, is forty-seven feet high, and the side altars are thirty and twenty-eight feet high.
The communion rail is also to be of polished walnut, with marble top; and the pews will be of white oak. They will seat 100 people.
Most of the large windows are memorials, and they are to be of the richest colors in cathedral glass. These alone will cost about $6000. The stations of the cross are in bas-relief and set in alcoves in the walls. These are also products of Munich artists.
AN IMMENSE BUILDING
Probably few people who have gazed on the two prominent spires of St. Joseph’s Church, which are landmarks all over the southeast section of the city, have realized the immensity of the new building. The main body of the church is 150x66 feet, and the transept is ninety-six feet wide. Back of this are the sacristy and rooms for altar boys, etc. The building has a large basement, fitted up for a hall, Sunday-school rooms, etc. Attached to the church on the east is the house of the Franciscan Fathers, which they now occupy. The plans for the whole where prepared by members of the Franciscan order, Brothers Adrian and Leonard, and the construction has been under the general supervision of Rev. Father Victor, O.F.M.
The new building is to stand as a monument to the Franciscans. Its corner-stone was laid by Bishop Montgomery June 16, 1901, and work has progressed continuously since that time.
The dedication of the new church will occur May 3, on the Feast of St. Joseph, the patron of the church. It will doubtless be one of the notable events in local Catholic history.
Exclusively for the purpose of officiating at this dedication, the Most Rev. D. Falconia, apostolic delegate to the United States, will come from Washington, D.C., accompanied by the auditor of the delegation and other church dignitaries.
The apostolic delegate is himself a Franciscan, and it is especially fitting that he perform the dedicatory service here. Others who will assist in the service are Most Rev. Archbishop Montgomery, Rt. Rev. Bishop Grace of Sacramento, Rt. Rev. Bishop Peter Verdeguer of Brownsville, Tex., and delegates from most of the nine Franciscan houses in the West.
Up next: St Vibiana’s Cathedral
Friday, April 20, 2007
The site, and current St Joseph's Church, todayBelieve me, I don’t expect you to read this, but the following is a Los Angeles Times article from March 12, 1903, preceeding the church's original dedication. While every reference I could find gives the 1901 date for St Joseph's, that's actually the year for ground-breaking, while 1903 is the year the church was completed.