Preservation, Road Trips

Inside St. Joseph Catholic Church, Shelbyville, Indiana

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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17 thoughts on “Inside St. Joseph Catholic Church, Shelbyville, Indiana

  1. 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.

  2. DougD says:

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

  3. Bob Dungan says:

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

  4. Pat Chase says:

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

      • 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.

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