SAINT JOSEPH HISTORY
Saint Joseph Brewery and Public House was established in 2015, but the building that houses our restaurant and brewery has quite a history. In order to meet the demands of the growing population in the northeast section of Indianapolis, the Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis, led by Bishop St. Palais, established the parish of St. Joseph in 1873, at that time the fourth Catholic parish in Indianapolis.
Father Joseph Petit, born in Forbach, Lorraine in France, was appointed the first pastor of the new parish. A two-story brick structure was built at the corner of Vermont and Liberty (now Park Ave.) Streets, and the top floor served as the parish church for the new congregation. In 1874, Father Petit was transferred to St. Michael Church in Madison, Indiana. Shortly thereafter, Father Herman Alerding, born in Germany, was appointed as pastor for St. Joseph parish. Father Alerding was very anxious to build a newer and bigger church for his growing congregation, but Bishop St. Palais refused to give his consent.
Bishop St. Palais died in June of 1877 and Bishop Silas Chatard was named as his successor in August of 1878. Bishop Chatard was determined to establish a hospital in Indianapolis, and the structure at Vermont and Liberty seemed to be ideal for the purpose. So he purchased two lots on the southwest corner of North and Noble (now College Ave.) streets for $5,500 and urged the congregation to build a new church on that site. Father Alerding took charge of the construction, and the cornerstone of the building we now occupy was laid by Bishop Chatard on July 20, 1879. The Gothic church was designed by noted architect Diedrich A. Bohlen of Hamburg, Germany. The building was finished in less than a year at a cost of $17,000. On July 4, 1880, Bishop Chatard blessed the church and Father Petit, the founder of the parish, returned from Madison to celebrate the first mass.
Father Alerding was appointed Bishop of Fort Wayne in August of 1900 and Father Francis B. Dowd was named pastor of St. Joseph. Father Dowd remained as pastor until his death in 1942. During his long pastorate, the neighborhood and population around St. Joseph began to change. Four new parishes established between 1881 and 1909 cut into the original boundaries of St. Joseph, and homes in the neighborhood were being replaced with industrial factories and mills. Father James Jansen was named to succeed Father Dowd as pastor of Saint Joseph in 1942, but the continuing decrease in membership led to the decision by Archbishop Paul Schulte to close and deconsecrate the church. The last mass at St. Joseph church was said by Archbishop Schulte on June 26, 1949.
The church building, still owned by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, was then converted to the Catholic Community Center, to be used as a meeting hall and auditorium for several organizations including the Catholic Charities Bureau and Catholic Youth Organization. The chuch itself finally closed in 1954.