Old St. Joseph’s Catholic Church

The Old St. Joseph Church was built in 1840, originally for Christ Episcopal.  The Greek Revival/Gothic Revival church was sold to the Catholics in 1857 when Christ Episcopal built a new church (MDAH Historic Resources Inventory).  It was moved to its current location and served the Catholic community until 1981.

This Historic American Buildings Survey photograph (Jack E. Boucher, March 1975) provides a much clearer view of the church without the mature trees that have obscured much of the view of the building.

Father Oberti, a native of Morra, Italy, was the parish priest assigned to the church when the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1878 hit Holly Springs (stjoseph.org).  Father Oberti and 13 teaching sisters remained to care for the sick.  At the age of 31, Father Oberti died, as did six of the nuns.

The building had been unused for 20 years and “in a state of serious deterioration” when the Historic Heritage Preservation Corporation of Holly Springs was founded to restore it (stjoseph.org).  It now serves as the Church of the Yellow Fever Martyrs Museum.

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8 Responses to Old St. Joseph’s Catholic Church

  1. Charlie Farris says:

    The yellow fever epidemic was in 1878 not 1978

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  2. I wonder if the tower was added at a later date? It is more aligned with the Stick Style, than the church itself.

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    • Suzassippi says:

      I confess to spending an hour this morning searching for an answer in the newspaper archives. While I learned quite a bit of trivia about Holly Springs from 1840-1857, alas, nothing about the church other than they had a lot of concerts when it was the Episcopal Church–probably to raise funds to build the new church in 1857 and sell this one to the Catholics. 1857 forward Catholics seemed to keep a lower profile than did the Episcopalians.

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      • I hope I didn’t send you down a rabbit hole. I could only think to check the sanborn maps which show the tower as extant in 1891. I’d put it some time in the ‘70s or ‘80s.

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  3. Suzassippi says:

    TR, you know I love a rabbit hole. I always swallow the bait, hook, line, sinker. It is fun–like my ‘self-care’ given how screwy the real world is these days. 🙂 Now, I can expand the search!

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  4. Suzassippi and Thomas, here is a link to the Church’s blog post on my blog. There is an older picture of the Church on that page, which I believe dates to about 1900. As far as I know, that’s the oldest picture of the church.

    https://hillcountryhistory.org/2015/05/23/holly-springs-yellow-fever-church-1840/

    We are having an event at the Yellow Fever Martyrs Museum next month to commemorate the 140th anniversary of the Yellow Fever Epidemic. We are still working out the details, but you can find more information on our Facebook page “Yellow Fever Martyrs Church and Museum.”

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