This is the third St. Joseph church at this site and it preceded the present St. Joseph’s Basilica. The church in the picture was build by the Lenzen brothers, Jacob and Theodore who had emigrated from Cologne, Germany in the 1860s. As architects and builders, they constructed many government buildings such as the old beautiful city hall in San Jose, hotels, hospitals, schools and churches as well as many of the old Victorian residences of which there are a few left for us to admire.
When this church was built in 1869 the congregation consisted mostly of German immigrants. In 1875 the church was destroyed by fire. The parish suffered a setback. In 1892 the new St. Mary’s Catholic Church on South Third Street was completed. The style of this structure reminded the German immigrant of churches back home. Many parishioners left St. Joseph’s to join the new community. The church as well as the school, where German was being taught, prospered.
St. Joseph’s was rebuilt. It is the seat of our bishop. It is a very beautiful cathedral. Jacob Lenzen sang in the church choir. One of the stained-glass windows was donated by the Stock family, another German immigrant.
P.S. Stories on St. Mary’s, St. Mary’s School, the Lenzen brothers and the Stock family can be found on this Website.