St. Joseph’s Catholic Church is located about one mile north of the main village of Essex, NY. The church was built mostly by volunteers. In 1873, it was completed using locally quarried stone at a total cost of $9,000 (Images of America: Essex on Lake Champlain 78).
The church served members of both the Essex and Willsboro communities, and this factor contributed to the chosen building site. The decision of where to locate the church was made to make it more convenient and accessible for Willsboro parishioners and to “provide room to shelter worshipers’ horses” (Belden Noble Memorial Library. Essex, New York: An Early History. Burlington, VT: Queen City Printers, 2003. Print. 79).
The land was donated by James Ross with the stipulation that it never be used as a cemetery. This may seem like a strange request, but for some the idea is macabre and there may have been practical reasons as well.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Decoration
“The eleven stained glass windows (including St. Joseph’s picture in his carpenter’s shop in the front) were installed in the early 1900s. Patrick Boyle, trustee at the time, chose windows that represented the joyful and glorious mysteries of the rosary.” (Essex, New York: An Early History 79-80)
A picture of St. Stephan, made of gold and colored thread, hangs in the vestry—Mrs. James Harlan (nee Noble) bought it in Italy and gifted it to Alonzo Bouchard, who then donated it to the church (Essex, New York: An Early History 80).
The top of the high steeple hosts a cross that is a beckoning symbol visible from far away distances. A rustic fence once stood in front of the church, but it was lost to road widening (Images of America: Essex on Lake Champlain 78). The fence can be seen in both photos accompanying this post.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Church History
“St. Joseph’s Catholic Parish was organized in 1872 by Father James Shields of Keeseville,” and he served as the church’s first priest (Essex, New York: An Early History 79)
St. Joseph’s was a mission church of the Westport Church until 1910 when it became a mission of St. Phillip’s Church in Willsboro, and then 25 years later the Oblate Fathers took over its care (Essex, New York: An Early History 80).
Today, St. Joseph’s is a Roman Catholic Church paired with St. Philip of Jesus in neighboring Willsboro, NY. Find service details and additional information here or call (518) 963-4524 to contact the church directly.
This map (with satellite image overlay) will help you locate St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and see how its location relates to other historic buildings in Essex’s historic district.
View Discover Essex on Lake Champlain in a larger map
Belden Noble Memorial Library. Essex, New York: An Early History. Burlington, VT: Queen City Printers, 2003. Print.
Hislop, David C., Jr. Essex on Lake Champlain. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub., 2009. Print. Images of America.
“Historic Essex.” Historic Essex. Essex Community Heritage Organization. Web. 26 Feb. 2013. <http://www.essexny.org/>.
Smith, H. P. History of Essex County: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers. Syracuse, N. Y.: D. Mason &, 1885. Print.