Journal Assignment: Research Project
Dr. K. Kourelis
St. Joseph Church
A. Overview of the State of Research
(No bibliographic resources found in Rineer; records prior to 1920 are in Latin- microfilm copy of records, LCHS.)
Brief History from St. Joseph Church’s 160th Anniversary:
“St. Joseph Church was established in 1849 by German immigrants who had settled in the neighborhood of Lancaster, which later became known as Cabbage Hill. In the 1880s the current brick church was built “around” the original smaller church. The beautiful church was built and decorated in the style of the southern German churches with which the original immigrants were quite familiar. The steeple of the church, sitting high atop the Hill, has been a familiar landmark in the Lancaster landscape ever since. For many years, the Mass at St. Joseph Church was in German, the language of the original parishioners. The historic and grand 30-rank tracker organ was newly installed in 1891 by Carl Barckhoff and, after a renovation, is still used at Sunday Mass. During the 20th century, the ethnic background of the area gradually changed and St. Joseph Church now welcomes and serves people of various nationalities and cultures.”
Elements of Structural Significance within St. Joseph Church:
- Taken from A Short History of the Carl Barckhoff Organ-
In the mid-1880s, St. Joseph’s Parish, having outgrown its church, built a larger one around the old building so that services would not be interrupted during construction. Once this project was finished, the old church now contained within the new, was demolished. At this time, the organ built by Joseph Burlington of Philadelphia for the first edifice was retained for use in the second. In fact, it may not have even been necessary to move the organ at all, since the bell tower and back wall- and perhaps the organ gallery- of the old church remained part of the new one. However, several years after this, the parish, under the leadership of Fr. Francis X. Schmidt, commissioned the Barckhoff Church Organ Company of Salem, OH to build a new, two-manual, twenty-nine rank instrument for St. Joseph’s.
Today, the 1891 Carl Barckhoff organ is one of only a few extant examples of this builder’s larger instruments, the other two being in New Albany, IN and Auburn, NY. Its historical importance is like that of a “statue, old colonial house, or covered bridge,” a great treasure of this parish. Even more importantly, it serves as a fine liturgical instrument.
- Taken from St. Joseph Catholic Church Pamphlet
- History of Saint Joseph Church (pertaining to research topic)
Land on a hill Southwest of St. Mary was purchased for $260 and construction of a church was started. The street on which the property faced was names St. Joseph Street at that time. The first church built for the parish was small, seating about 400. By 1871, a steady stream of German Catholic immigrants had settled in Lancaster and, in 1885 a new, larger church was under construction to accommodate the larger congregation.
- Angels in the Architecture
Angels prevail throughout the church. They flank each side of the high altar sculpted of white Italian marble imported in 1909. Angels also watch over the congregation from each of the stained glass windows. Angels, according to religious tradition, are significant because they are guardians and messengers between God and humans. They are spiritual beings with intellect and free will.
- Stained Glass Windows in St. Joseph Church
Rev. Francis X. Schmidt, originally intended for 15 windows in the church (five on each side and a third set in the sanctuary) to represent the 15 mysteries of the rosary: Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious. The rosary is a form of mental and vocal prayers centered on the mysteries commemorating events in the lives of Jesus and Mary. The five Joyful Mysteries were installed in the church sanctuary. However, Father Schmidt’s death interrupted plans for the other windows. Then, when side windows were installed, they depicted saints in a variety of scenes from the Bible. Families and individuals, who underwrote the purchase of each window, are noted at the bottom of the stained-glass panels. Below the stained glass windows and along the walls of the church, Stations of the cross are depicted in fine Belgium relief sculptures. Their design is similar to the Last Supper carved from a single piece of marble in the base of the altarpiece and brought to the church in 1909.
- Church Ceilings/Wall Paintings
The church ceilings and walls are replete with religiously themed paintings. In the three domes of the nave, the 12 apostles, or followers of Christ, are depicted. In the semi-arched dome over the tabernacle, a series of five angels are represented in silent vigil. In the archway that frames the altar opening, the Fathers of the Universal Church are represented in paintings. The Universal Church is that which is spread throughout the world. The men depicted lived in the second, third and fourth centuries. On the left-hand, or Eastern side, of St. Joseph Church are the Great Fathers of the East. One the right-hand, or Western side, are the great Fathers of the West save for St. Benedict. Benedict is not one of the fathers of the church but it is believed he may have been placed here because of the special devotions of one of the pastors. In the right rear of the church, near the center doors, St. Francis Xavier is painted. Church records indicate he probably represents the memory of the Jesuit missionaries who first brought Catholicism to Lancaster in the 1740s and helped establish St. Mary’s Church. On the rear left, St. Francis of Assisi is painted, probably in honor of the Sisters of St. Francis who served the parish as teachers for more than 130 years.
- This church represents both divine intervention and appreciation for architecture, history, music and religious art to inspire-
(More on Church History) Founded in 1849, the first structure of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church was built circa 1850 to 1854. Some elements of this building survive within the walls of the present church, built between 1882 and 1886. This late Victorian Church was enlarged and remodeled in 1923. Visually and historically, the tower and walls of this church, of modified Romanesque Revival style, dominate an area of several blocks.
B. Statement of Research Project
This research project will examine the architectural styling differences of both the exterior structure/facade and interior structure/facade of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church before and after the structure was rebuilt to create an expanded church building. It will further include an analysis and critique on its application of the Romanesque and Romanesque Revival style emulated within its architectural design in order to contrast the definition of typical Romanesque revival to that of this church. Specifically examined will be exteriorly, the tower, structural masonry materials and composition; interiorly the ceilings, stained glass windows, columns, apse and again building materials. There will also be a focus on the interior’s overall rhythm due to its ornamentalism and how that perhaps influences the structure of the mass, itself. Questions will then be asked such as do these areas have a specific purpose and if so, is that purpose utilized? Moreover, the feeling of the inside to the outside of the church will be analyzed according to aesthetics and its feeling on spectators since the two facades starkly contrast one another.
Research/Analysis and Evaluations will be weighed against some of the following information thus far…
The primary architectural style of St. Joseph Catholic Church is that of Neo-Romanesque using a combination of Roman and Byzantine styles popular in Europe in the late 1800s. This church, specifically, is reminiscent of an ancient European Cathedral. The building’s structure is pressed brick and behind the large carved-wood doors is a nave surrounded by graceful arches supported by tall pillars. The pillars measure 41 feet high, and there are six on each side in alternating square and round columns. Each is topped with gold acanthus-leaf capitals (Corinthian in architectural style).
The interior of this structure greatly contrasts that of its exterior. While the exterior is modeled after Neo-Romanesque, its style is very austere and less ornamental than what its interior presents. Inside of St. Joseph you are encapsulated into an atmosphere of marvelous detail and creative precision which sends the spectator into a feeling of wonder. One may not gather that they will be receiving such a feeling from simply observing the outside of the church. The Neo-Romanesque/Roman Revival features of this church include the round arches, semi-circular arches on the windows and belt courses- yet here are more simplified than their historic counterparts of the Romanesque tradition. Whereas, represented in Romanesque style are massive and thick in quality walls, sturdy piers, large towers, and decorative arcading, St. Joseph truly embodies the characteristics of the revival. The church sets itself apart because there is not much sculptural ornament applied to the West front or the portal- nor does stylized foliage appear nor figurative sculpture anywhere on the structure. St. Joseph’s embodies the Lombard band, a row of small arches that appear to support a roofline. It contains flattened buttresses rising to wide arches at the upper levels after the manner of some Italian Romanesque facades. The only visible sculpture on the exterior, however, is that involving the arches’ shapes; the sculpture of the moldings is either curved or linear. The building plan is very regular and symmetrical so that the overall appearance is one of simplicity. Moreover, the tower is rectangular and square with columns functioning as external buttresses rising without climbing through the various stages of the church’s exterior masonry. Yet, the interior of the church seems to embody more fully the style of Romanesque Revival. One finds columns present with Corinthian capitals- an inspiration for Romanesque capitals. There is also an alternation of piers and columns, a significant feature of Romanesque architecture. The murals on the interior façade including predominantly the ceiling, but also some of the walls demonstrate a characteristic of said revival. The large walls surfaces and plain curving vaults, in this case the pointed arch vault, lend themselves to the mural décor of religious symbolism. In the semi-dome of the church’s apse is common for an image of Christ. Large stained glass windows also adorn St. Joseph’s; something one would find in Romanesque cathedrals as well. Here, the pointed arch vault is used to regulate the height of the diagonal and transverse ribs; the use of arches of the same diameter for both horizontal and transverse ribs causes the transverse ribs to meet at a point. This ceiling is particularly different from typical Romanesque churches because it is not wooden.
After viewing the microfilms and examining older images the influx of hopeful information will provide a basis for St. Joseph’s analysis.
C. The methodologies that I plan to use to answer my research questions include the examination of the microfilm history of the church. The examination of old images and records will hopefully aid me in this process. Further, I plan to look into the St. Joseph’s own architectural archives/church history and arrange to talk to the parish’s priest or office manager about the significance of particular parts of both the church’s interior and exterior- as to what to pay particular attention to over other elements. I also want to consult local newspapers to investigate if any information was written about the architectural change from the structure’s original building to its second expansion. Even more recently, I would look to examine information written within newspapers about the newly restored tower and significance of the unique organ inside the church. Historical records could bring to life information about the specifics of St. Joseph. I plan on utilizing the archives at F&M to research and the maps available at the Lancaster Historical Society and F&M to analyze how the landscape and surroundings of the church have changed. Furthermore, a look into the architectural history- including the architect and original architectural plans, if obtainable, would greatly add to this research process. Those will hopefully be available through the architectural company/architect, if still in existence, or perhaps a copy through the church’s own records. This would allow me to structurally analysis the blueprints and compare the changes more specifically.
D. Photographs of the Research Project’s Problem/Issue under Investigation: