The oldest German Catholic Church in Texas and the oldest wooden church building in Galveston, St. Joseph's was built by German immigrants in 1859-60. Bishop John Odin, the first Catholic bishop of Texas, recommended a church be built for the German-speaking Catholics of the growing city. The church was dedicated in April 1860, to St. Joseph, the patron saint of laborers.
The building is a simple wooden Gothic Revival structure, rectangular with a square bell tower with trefoil window. The softly painted interior features a coffered ceiling with painted quatrefoils and other Gothic symbols, plaster of Paris Stations of the Cross with German inscriptions dating from the early years of the 20th Century and the original, elaborate main and side altars with reredos as well as many of the original statues and altar furnishings.
Although damaged in the 1900 Storm, the church was repaired, enlarged, and redecorated within the year, retaining its original architectural character. In 1968, the Catholic Diocese closed the church and sold the contents at public auction. Upon learning that the building was to be used as a warehouse, Galveston Historical Foundation stepped in and leased the property. Most of the original furnishings were recovered, re-installed, and the structure was stabilized. GHF has continued to maintain the building and opens it for special occasions, and prearranged group tours, and private functions.
Prearranged Adult Group Tours (20 or more): $3.00 per person
Tours by appointment, only.