Otis House

St. Joseph Catholic Church

Today, St. Joseph Catholic Church is a Roman Catholic church serving Beacon Hill and the West End. Built in 1834 for the Twelfth Congregational Society, it was purchased and consecrated by the Boston Roman Catholic Diocese in 1862. By the mid-nineteenth century, the West End community was changing, and as members of working-class families of predominantly European descent moved in, houses of worship evolved.

The building was designed by architect Alexander Parris and constructed in 1834. Employed in the office of Charles Bulfinch, his work transitioned from Federal architecture to the Greek Revival style. When in 1817 Bulfinch was called to Washington to work on the U.S. Capitol Building, Parris helped complete the Bulfinch Pavillion at Massachusetts General Hospital. With Bulfinch’s departure, Parris soon became the city’s leading architect. His most famous commission was the Quincy Market building, constructed 1824-26.

The interior of the church features a crucifixion painting believed to be transferred from the old cathedral on Franklin Street to St. Joseph’s in 1862. It is an enlarged replica painted in 1803 by Lawrence Sargent of the original by Pierre-Paul Prud’hon in 1758, now housed at the Louvre in Paris. A Hook and Hastings pipe organ was installed in 1884, and, with its characteristic full-bodied sound and is still in use today.