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St. Joseph Catholic Church
In 1853, Father Croke rented a building on the corner of Church and Chemeketa Streets. It served as a church until 1864. In 1863, the sisters of the Holy Names bought the building, and it became Sacred Heart Convent.

On September 7, 1863, Sacred Heart Academy opened with 80 students. Mass was celebrated there until a new church was dedicated on April 10, 1864. The seating capacity was 300. It was named St. John's Church.

In 1889, a second church built and dedicated on March 24th of that year. It was located on the corner of Chemeketa and Cottage Streets. It was renamed St. Joseph's since Oregon City already had a church named St. John's.

In 1941, a six-room classroom building was dedicated on the Winter Street side of the block. Three classrooms were added on the south end of the school in 1950. (Two new classrooms and a new library were built in the remodeling of the school in 1998.)

St. Joseph's grew until the present church was dedicated on March 19, 1953. The church is located on the northwest corner of Chemeketa and Winter Streets.

St. Joseph's parish accounts for more than 3,500 families - 1,500 of which are Hispanic.

The teaching of good family values and the willingness to meet the challenges of an inner-city church keep St. Joseph's and active and integral part of Salem.

When asked what made St. Joseph's a unique church, Father Gimpl replied, "It is the combining of the cultures we have here. We are Anglo, Hispanic, and Vietnamese. And we all blend quite well together."

Compiled by William Glennen

Timeline of Church History and materials of reference provided by Father Gimpl, St. Joseph's Church on November 19, 2002


St. Joseph Catholic Church, 1889.
St. Joseph Catholic Church in the snow, 1889.
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St. Joseph Catholic Church today.
St. Joseph Catholic Church today.
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