Margaret and I were in Shelbyville for the day a couple weeks ago to meet with a few business owners. Margaret has become the Communications Director for the Historic Michigan Road Association, and she is starting to profile businesses on or near the road for our Web site.

We got to town more than an hour early for our first appointment, so we parked on the square and walked around taking photographs. St. Joesph Catholic Church is an imposing structure on E Broadway St., which is also the Michigan Road. It towers over the surrounding buildings.

St. Joseph Catholic Church

As we photographed the exterior, a car pulled up and a fellow got out. He introduced himself to us as Jack, a member at the church. We got to talking and after a few minutes he asked if we’d like to see the inside. Well, of course we would! He called a staff member to see if a visit could be arranged. It was, and shortly we were in.

St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church

It just goes to show you that you never know what beauty lurks in any town. Shelbyville isn’t the flashiest town on the Michigan Road, but my goodness but does it have this gorgeous church.

St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church

St. Joseph’s stained glass windows are simply stunning. I did my best to capture the deep, rich color.

St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church
St. Joseph Catholic Church

I checked: Emil Frei and Associates is still in the stained-glass business, and has been since 1898. Emil may have been from Munich, but he based his business in St. Louis. Today, it operates in Kirkwood, a St. Louis suburb.

St. Joseph Catholic Church

We were incredibly fortunate to meet Jack, who unlocked this tour for us.

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20 responses to “Inside St. Joseph Catholic Church, Shelbyville, Indiana”

  1. Rich Avatar

    Absolutely stunning! Well done, Young James.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you!

  2. J P Avatar

    I love this. It reminds me that there was a time when the Catholic Church believed that every parishioner, no matter how humble, was entitled to experience beauty in worship.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Shelbyville is fortunate to have two stunning Catholic churches. The other is St. Vincent’s, a little southeast of town right on the Michigan Road. I hope we can tour that one someday.

  3. DougD Avatar

    Nice, and well kept up too.
    I always like to see a hymn board in a church, it reminds me of my childhood

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I last was a member of a church that used one in 2004!

  4. Bob Dungan Avatar
    Bob Dungan

    Wonderful pictures. Reminds me of our honeymoon in Charleston SC. We toured five of the downtown churches in a very small group.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Very nice! I wish they still built ’em like this.

  5. Pat Chase Avatar
    Pat Chase

    Who were the large catholic early peoples to Shelbyville that would have had the resources to build such an expensive church?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I wish I knew!

      1. J P Avatar

        What I find so amazing is that Catholics at that time were not the wealthy movers and shakers that many are now. They tended to be fairly recent ethnic immigrants who were wage laborers. All the “establishment” money in this part of the midwest was in the Presbyterians and Methodists, and in some areas the Lutherans. Yet these people in the lower classes still found the money to put into church buildings like this.

  6. analogphotobug Avatar

    A Beautiful Post for Holy Week!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oh yeah, it is Holy Week! We don’t strictly observe the liturgical calendar in my faith tradition so I lose track of it sometimes.

  7. brandib1977 Avatar

    How lucky! I photographed the exterior of this church my one trip through Shelbyville. Neat town! Gorgeous photos.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oh, you’ve been by here? Then you were on the Michigan Road Historic Byway!

      1. brandib1977 Avatar

        Yes! A couple of years ago (about the time I started this blog) and I was taken with the town square. I visited to hear an author talk somewhere close by and had a great experience.

  8. Benjamin Avatar

    I went to St. Joseph elementary school and attended this church every week. I no longer live in Shelbyville so I have not seen the building in many years. Great to remember it. I feel a little spoiled growing up and attending such a beautiful church!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Shelbyville is fortunate to have this church!

    2. Stefanie Wilson Avatar
      Stefanie Wilson

      I, too, attended this school and church in the 80’s.

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