St. Joseph's Catholic Church
Backstory and Context
History of the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church
A Catholic congregation had been in the Macon area since the early 1840s, and even at that time, it had been their dream to establish a church. As such, in 1841, about 50 parishioners and their priest, Father James Graham, bought a Presbyterian church and started the first Catholic parish in Macon. The congregation grew over the years, and in 1865, Father James O’Neill found the church too small for the congregation. The parish then purchased another Presbyterian church on today’s Riverside Drive.
Due to requests from the Bishop of Savannah, an influx of Jesuits came to Macon from New Orleans to staff the St. Joseph’s Pio Nono College, and within a year after the Jesuits arrived, they were determined to build a more worthy church. The foundation for the new church was laid in 1889 and the plans included a modified Romanesque-neo-Gothic style.1
At the time of its dedication, the church was revered for its beautiful, 200-feet-tall towers jutting into the sky, its 67 stained glass windows from Bavaria, the 1,000-pipe organ, and the stunning white Carrara marbled altar and pulpit. In fact, at the time of its dedication, the Macon Telegraph wrote on November 15, 1903, "If architecture may be fittingly described as frozen music, St. Joseph's Church, to be dedicated today, is a symphony."2