“The bringing together of the two existing parallel groups of organizations in which there were duplicate officers for every post was a matter of great delicacy and presented difficulties which might have wrecked the whole project. But the fine, generous, self-effacing spirit of the leaders and people of both St. Joseph’s and St. Paul’s in the matter of merging and making single organizations where before there had been two groups, assured the success of the whole undertaking. What seemed the most difficult problem, in reality became the easiest. The same can be said of the fine, generous spirit of the Grace Church congregation when later they merged with the Cathedral.”
Excerpt from Building the Cathedral by The Very Reverend S. S. Marquis
This society was organized and incorporated July 12, 1867. The first service was held on Sunday afternoon, September 2, 1867, in the Lafayette Avenue M. E. Church. Afternoon services were subsequently held in the Congregational Church, and then St. Andrew’s Hall was rented, and here the congregation remained until their church was completed. On December 21. 1867, Rev. M. C. Lightner was called to the rectorship, and exactly three years after, on December 21, 1870, their brick church, on the northeast corner of Fort and Second Streets, was opened for worship.
The lot, seventy-five by one hundred and thirty feet, and then worth $13,000, was given by E. W. Hudson. The building is sixty-six by one hundred and twenty feet, and with its furnishings, cost $75,000. It will seat twelve hundred persons. In 1879 a mortgage of $16,000 on the property was paid by J. W. Waterman, who presented the society with the canceled document. As the church was now free from debt, on January 7, 1880, it was consecrated.
The average attendance at Sunday morning services, in 1880, was 300. The rector’s salary was $3,500, the choir cost $1,500, the sexton was paid $350, and the total annual expenses were $6,000. The pew rents amounted to $4.500 per year. The value of property was $90,000. Number of members in 1870, 409; in 1880, 535.
Rev. Mr. Lightner resigned September 13, 1873, and on September 28, 1874, the Rev. Lewis P. W. Balch was elected as rector. He died on June 4, 1875, and on June 11 Rev. C. H. V. Stocking was chosen his successor. He resigned in 1883, preaching his last sermon on August 5. In January, 1884, Rev. J. McCarroll accepted a call to serve as rector.
St. Joseph’s Memorial Chapel
This chapel is located on the northeast corner of Woodward and Medbury Avenues, and cost about $9.000. The lot was donated and the chapel erected by Mrs. I.. R. Medbury. It was consecrated July 9, 1884. The rectors have been: Rev. W. J. Spiers, November, 1884, 10 February, 1886, and Rev. B. Hamilton since.
The original building in this complex, St. Joseph’s Memorial Chapel, was a gift of Mrs. L.R. Medbury, and was built on the corner or Woodward and Medbury (now the Edsel Ford service drive).The chapel, consecrated in 1884, soon proved too small, and a larger church, completed in 1896, was erected facing Woodward. The church, built from 1893 to 1896, is a massive rock-faced, cross-gable-roofed, sandstone Romanesque Revival structure. The gabled facade is flanked by two towers: a tall, square, pyramid-roofed tower to the south and a round, conical-roofed tower on the north. The entrance between the towers is into a one-story vestibule; it is surmounted by a large rose window.
In 1906, St. Joseph’s congregation merged with that of the congregation of the nearby St. Paul’s Cathedral. The St. Joseph’s building was sold to Father Francis J. Vananthwerp in 1907, and Our Lady of the Rosary Roman Catholic Church was established. The new congregation altered some of the church’s structure, extending the nave and adding an over-sized, gilded statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary atop the south tower’s hipped roof.