Ohio Historical Marker: St. Joseph Catholic Church

St. Joseph Catholic Church has been located here since the parish's formation in 1845. Tiffin was established by Josiah Hedges in 1822, and shortly after, many German Catholic families began to settle in the area. They formed part of St. Mary's parish until 1845, when they obtained permission from Bishop John Purcell of the Diocese of Cincinnati to organize as the separate congregation of St. Joseph. In May 1845, parishioners bought two acres of land at the conjunction of Melmore and South Washington Streets. Within the month, they laid the cornerstone for a 40-foot by 66-foot brick church that would be completed by August of that year. As the congregation grew, Rev. Joseph Bihn, pastor from 1856 to 1873, saw the need for a new church.

The original St. Joseph's was demolished in 1860 but the parish built a new Gothic-style church at the same location. Consecrated in September 1862, the new building measured 140 feet by 60 feet with a 180-foot-high spire. Construction cost only $25,000 because parishioners furnished most of the labor and building materials. In April 1934, lightning struck the steeple, causing a fire that destroyed much of the church and left standing only the walls and the sanctuary, which is the location of the altar and is the most important part of a Catholic church. The congregation raised $200,000 to rebuild, a significant amount during the Great Depression when much of the country was under financial strain. The reconstructed church was blessed and dedicated in September 1937.

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