Church Interior circa 1893
1863- A "St. Joseph's School" is founded in Wilbur by the pastor of St. Mary's Parish in Rondout.
1867- The Kingston Armory on the corner of Main and Wall Streets is bought secretly to serve as the new St. Joseph's Church. Due to anti-Catholic prejudice, the deed is in a parishioner's name, Luke Noone.
1868- Father Coyle establishes another school in a wood frame building, no longer standing, on the southwest corner of Fair and Franklin Streets. Sunday Mass is celebrated there also. Both schools are operating simultaneously.
1868- The new St. Joseph's Parish is assigned its first pastor, Reverend James Dougherty, who begins his duties on October 12.
1869 On July 27, the new St. Joseph's church opens its doors and is formally dedicated.
1871- The Wilbur school is sold to the City of Kingston.
1893- The heating system breaks down and the Church is declared unsafe after termite-eaten beams are found. A major renovation and strengthening of the infrastructure begins. The superstructure behind the main altar and the side altars honoring the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph are installed. The women in the parish raise funds for carpeting.
1898- The new church front is completed, adding the vestibule, bell tower and the brick facade with the statue of St. Joseph. The grand reopening is held on May 1 and presided over by Bishop John Farley.
1903- Stone sidewalks around the church are installed.
1904- The church interior is totally renovated.
1905- On April 1, the home of Judge Alton B. Parker at 1 Pearl Street is bought for $10,000 by Mr. George Downing, acting on behalf of the St. Joseph's Church Corporation. In September, the new St. Joseph's School and Convent open there. On Labor Day, September 8, over 2,000 attend the opening ceremony at which Reverend Daniel Quinn, S.J., president of Fordham University, is the orator. The Fair Street school building is used as the parish hall until 1911.
1908- The debt on the church, about $10,000 from the start, is finally cleared by the pastor, Reverend Edward McCue, and the church is solemnly consecrated on May 10 by Archbishop John M. Farley. A dinner is served by the Misses Kenny in the parish hall for the 65 priests present for the ceremonies.
1911- The Fair Street school building is sold for $1,700. On November 11, the rectory's next door neighbor, Margaret Green dies and the pastor, Reverend John Briody, sets about securing the sight for a new school and convent.
1912- After two months of negotiating, Father Briody succeeds in buying the property for $13,000, $7,000 less than the original asking price. 1 Pearl St. is sold to the Carr family for $10,000 and becomes a funeral home. The parish borrows $35,000 from Kingston Savings Bank to build the new school and convent.
1943- St. Joseph's Parish celebrates its Diamond Jubilee. The Sisters of Charity leave and the Sisters of St. Ursula arrive to staff the school.
1962- On February 24, the pastor, Monsignor Stephen Connelly, turns the first spade of earth at groundbreaking ceremonies for a new $450,000 building to be added to the parish school com-complex diagonally across from the old school.
St. Joseph's Mission in Hurley is constructed to relieve congestion at the church in Kingston.
1963- The new school opens in September and the old school is named for Msgr. Connelly who dies on October 8.
1964- On Sunday, April 5, the new school is blessed and dedicated by Bishop Philip J. Furlong. During the 60s, the parish school enrollment swells to 660 and the CCD student population to more than 1,200.
1972- The decision is reached to completely renovate the church interior and exterior, rather than build a new structure. The marble side altars and statues, the superstructure on the main altar, the bronze sanctuary grille and murals are removed. The side galleries are declared unsafe and taken down. New pews, confessionals, wood statues and ceiling lights are installed. During the renovation, the congregation attends Mass in the new school auditorium.
1973- The church reopens with a solemn rededication and Mass on November 3. Terence Cardinal Cooke is the principal celebrant.
1978 The parish school receives its first lay principal.
1993- The Sisters of St. Ursula celebrate 50 years at St. Joseph's. Msgr. Keating celebrates 45 years at St. Joseph's and 50 years of priesthood. St. Joseph's Parish celebrates its 125th Anniversary.
THE ROOTS of St. Joseph's Parish reach all the way down to Kingston's waterfront on the Rondout Creek and the area called Wilbur. In the 19th century, many Irish Catholic immigrants made their homes there, finding work right at their doorstep on the Delaware & Hudson Canal and in the many boatyards along the banks of the creek.
St. Joseph's Parish, the largest in the city of Kingston today, began as a mission school to serve the children of the Wilbur area. According to old records, it was started as early as 1863 by the Reverend James Coyle, pastor of St. Mary's Parish in Rondout. An account sheet dated July 1, 1867 reveals that a business-man, James A. Booth, kept an account with a "St. Joseph's School and Engine House at Wilbur, " operating since May 1, 1863. The school was staffed by the Sisters of Charity at St. Mary's who were transported to Wilbur each day by horse and wagon. The 'Sisters' Maintenance" from May 1, 1863 is listed in Father Coyle's own financial reports. In 1868, Father Coyle started another school in uptown Kingston on the southwest corner of Fair and Franklin Streets. Housed in a wood building that no longer exists, it was also called St. Joseph's and staffed by the Sisters of Charity. For at least a few years, both "St. Joseph's Schools" were in operation at the same time, according to a financial report that lists the cost of "Carrying the Sisters to Wilbur and Kingston from June 1, 1868 to December 1, 1869" as $117. The Fair Street schoolhouse was also used for the celebration of Sunday Mass.
Meanwhile, the year before, a building had been bought to serve as the new St. Joseph's Church, but bought in secrecy by a parishioner in his own name, Luke Noone, and deeded to the parish two years later. It was difficult for the church to buy property openly then due to anti-Catholic prejudice. The feeling prevailed that Catholics' primary loyalty was to Rome rather than America and that the presence of a Catholic church or school would depreciate property values. The imposing Romanesque building Noone bought for $3,781 was the former Old Dutch Church, erected in 1832 on the south-east corner of Main and Wall Streets. when that congregation moved in 1852 to its present location across the street, the building became the Kingston Armory.
Two years later, on July 27, 1869, Mass was celebrated for the first time in the same building used to train troops for the Civil War just a few years prior. Ten months before the church doors opened, St. Joseph's had formally become a parish when it was assigned its own pastor, the Reverend James Dougherty. While prejudice towards Catholics was common-place, it was not universal. A number of Protestant and Jewish Kingston and made generous contributions towards the cost of turning the Armory into St. Joseph's Church. In the first collection for that purpose, they gave $1,310 of$4,175.
The strategy of buying through an agent would be used once again, in 1905, when the parish wanted to buy the beautiful brick home of Judge Alton B. Parker at Pearl Street for a new school and convent. The parish's lawyer, John Cloonan, and a parishioner, George Downing, succeeded in negotiating the sale for $10,000 in Downing's name.
To prove to the citizens of Kingston that Catholics were not lacking in patriotism, at the opening ceremonies-monies, attended by more then 2,000 people, a large American flag was raised and 250 parish children, arranged around a flag-bedecked platform, sang patriotic song&
In 1911, the corner property next to the rectory, long considered an ideal site for the school, became available, but the parish's offer of $10,000 was rejected and the price raised to $20,000. Lengthy and difficult negotiations finally resulted in St. Joseph's being allowed to buy the site for $13,000. The old wooden school house on Fair Street, which had continued to serve as the parish hall, was sold and a new three-story brick school built and opened in 1913.
By 1960, with the walls of both the school and church bursting with 'baby boomers," St. Joseph's began its own mission, a new building constructed on a hilltop in Hurley. Opened in 1962, the Hurley Mission provided space for 600 people to attend Mass and classrooms for the CCD population in that area. Another building with eight classrooms, meeting rooms and a modern gym, was added to the parish school complex and opened in September 1963. During the 60's, the population of the parish school peaked to over 600 and the CCD population to 1,100.
With the dawning of the 70's, serious problems in the church structure also came to light. The foundation had deteriorated to the point that safety was at issue. After months of debate, the parish made the painful decision to bulldoze the old church and build a new one.
The church's fate seemed sealed when architectural drawings of the "new St. Joseph's" were put on display in the vestibule. Fortunately, Fred Johnston, whose hand-some Federal-style house was diagonally across the street, interceded, begging Msgr. John O'Reilly to consult a restoration architect before bulldozing. Johnston final-finally prevailed and the foundation was repaired.
The church interior was also totally remodeled to accommodate the liturgical changes decreed by the Second Vatican Council. This last facelift saw several signatures of St.. Joseph's disappear such as the side gal-galleries, frescoes, side altars and gothic altar superstructures. But, the main altar, installed in 1869, is still in use and still the centerpiece of St. Joseph's Church.
It could be said that St. Joseph's first face was 'Kelly green." The congregation reads like a Dublin telephone directory: Donovan, Sweeney, O'Reilly, Madden, Mulhern, Cassidy, Ryan, Conway, Maloney, Nolan, Dwyer, Jordan, McSpirit, Powers, Norton, Roach, Cavanagh and Mahar, to name a few.
Today, along with many descendants of those first parishioners, the faces that fill the pews are Italian, German, Korean, Phillipine, Iranian, African, Spanish, Puerto Rican and Polish. In 1993, there are 2,500 people in the parish for whom eight Masses are celebrated each weekend. The parish school has an enrollment of 154 and 540 public school students attend St. Joseph's CCD classes.
The first parishioners dug deep in their pockets to make St. Joseph's Parish a reality. In 1993, 125 years later, many in the current congregation followed their example and committed themselves to tithing. A generous spirit started St. Joseph's. A generous spirit sustains it.
The story of a community and the story of a parish are so blended that one cannot be understood or appreciated without the inclusion of the other. The story of Kingston, New York, is deeply involved in the founding of New York State and the formation of the United States as an independent nation. The story of St. Joseph's Parish is the story of the Catholic community which settled in this historic city and has become a vital part of its life, its growth, and its proud American heritage.
The story of Kingston begins three centuries ago with the expedition of Henry Hudson, an Englishman in the employ of the Dutch East India Company, after his memorable voyage up the "River of the Mountains" in the "Half Moon." His report of the beautiful country and the friendly reception of the Indians brought about the settlement of the Hudson River Valley by the Dutch. The Ulster County area of New Netherlands was settled in October, 1614, when the United New Netherlands Company set up a small community at the mouth of the Rondout Creek. The grant of this territory was awarded to the Dutch East India Company in 1618, but no permanent settlement is recorded there before 1652. At about this same time territorial disputes at Rensselaer-wyck caused some of the settlers to move to Esopus, and by 1658 the Esopus settlement numbered between sixty and seventy people.
The turbulent Peter Stuyvesant, for reasons of defense, selected a piece of high ground with drainage on three sides and surrounded by fertile farm land for the Wiltwyck stockade. Within this square, with the block house on the southern boundary, the city started. The life of the community was peaceful and uneventful until 1663 when, on June 7. Indians living in the neighborhood made a savage attack on the village. So friendly had the Indians seemed up to that time that they came to the village regularly to sell their food and goods. On this particular day they appeared simultaneously in several sections of the village at noon, when the men were still in the fields. They had their familiar baskets of beans for sale, but hidden in the baskets were the tomahawks which they used with deadly effect upon the women who came to the doors. When alerted to the attack, the men returned to find the dead, many dwellings in flames, and forty-five women and children taken as hostages.
This tragedy was but the first of a series of troubles which were to plague the early years of the community. By 1664, the English of New England made claims to and invaded the territory. The Dutch and English War was waged. On August 27, 1664, New Amsterdam surrendered to the English and under their rule was renamed New York for the Duke of York and Albany. The surrender of Fort Orange and Wiltwyck followed shortly after that of New Amsterdam. The name of Fort Orange was changed to Albany in honor of the Scotch title of the Duke of York, and the name of the Sopus and Wiltwyck settlement was changed to Kingston by commission of Governor Lovelace, who thus honored his mother's family estate - Kingston L'Isle, near Wantage, Berkshire, England. The Dutch regained possession of the beleaguered settlement on July 29, 1673, but held it for only a short time, for by February, 1674, the Treaty of Breda, originally signed in 1667, was made permanently effective and the British held control.
Then came the French and Indian War, causing much distress and hindrance to the prosperity of the area, although it did not even suggest the troubles to come for Kingston, or the glory which it would merit for its role in the birth of the nation and in the founding of the State of New York.
July 4, 1776, brought the Declaration of Independence and the War of Revolution. The year 1777 was the darkest in the history of Kingston, and October 17 was its darkest day. On that day the British General Vaughn captured Kingston and the entire town was burned to ashes. But 1777 was also a golden year for Kingston, for it had been the site of the establishment of the provisional state government. Because of the advancing British Army, the state government had to move from place to place to escape detection and destruction. For a time the site was the now historic Senate House on Clinton Avenue. There the first constitution of New York was adopted. The first government was inaugurated at the court house; the first jury under the constitution was impaneled; and the first session of the state legislature was held in Kingston. Many other stone houses of this era can still be found in the vicinity and one, which dates back to 1777, belongs to the parish.
The patriotism of the people of Kingston, where the first military academy in the State of New York was established in 1774. captured the admiration of General George Washington. Even the destruction of the city could not halt the spirit and determination of the proud and freedom-loving settlers of Kingston. By the time of the victorious conclusion of the Revolutionary War, Kingston had been entirely rebuilt to take up its role in the new republic.
Although the young nation still faced the War of 1812, Kingston had finally won the peace which allowed its growth in numbers and progress as a community. The great Hudson River, the Catskills on the northern boundary, and the Shawangunk Range which intersects Ulster County from the northeast to the southwest all add their own distinctive beauty to the area and to the setting of Kingston. Not just the natural beauty, but even more the abundance of natural resources attracted the influx of immigrants who were escaping from their own troubled countries across the Atlantic in the 1800's. The early colonists of Kingston brought with them the faith of their fathers, and the Dutch Reformed can claim its ecclesiastical beginnings in Kingston as far back as 1658. But the great promise of a free America brought men of other faiths to these shores, among them many Irish Catholics.
The mountains of Ulster County held an unsuspected treasure, which was destined to contribute to rapid industrial and population growth. In the construction of the Delaware and Hudson Canal, some time previous to 1828, cement from Onondaga County was used to construct the locks. The engineers working on the project soon discovered that the rocks around High Falls resembled those along the Erie Canal. Experiments proved that the formations not only contained cement, but that it was of a much better quality than any developed to that time.
The cement industry flourished in Rosendale, at High Falls, and at the mouth of the Rondout Creek in Kingston. The years from 1828 to the 1860's were peaceful and prosperous for the entire Ulster County area. The railroads, the steamboat, the canals all fostered the commerce essential to prosperity. But in spite of the prosperity, or perhaps because the prosperity had awakened social consciousness to the problems of inequality and slavery, tensions were mounting in the United States which were to lead, in 1864, to the severest test of its national unity the Civil War. During this time of national crisis - with its fever of fear, bitterness and distrust - the first indication of Mass being said for the Catholics in uptown Kingston was recorded. An old account sheet, dated July 1, 1867, reveals that a James A. Booth kept an account with St. Joseph's School and Engine House at Wilbur. In the account, James Booth reports that the school dates back at least to May 1, 1863; that the Sisters of Charity came from St. Mary's Convent in Rondout, where a parish had been established earlier; that Mr. Daniel E. Donavan and Reverend James Coyle, pastor of St. Mary's, figured prominently in the administration of the school.
Father Coyle's own financial report contains an account with St. Joseph's, Kingston, which verifies that he did a great deal of the supervision of the Wilbur school and was largely responsible for the formation of the new parish in Kingston. In fact the Kingston parish began as another school established at Fair and Franklin Streets. This school was used for Sunday Mass for the Catholics of Kingston until the armory was converted into the first church of the parish. Both the Wilbur school and the Kingston school were in operation at the same time, St. Joseph's early start is due then in great measure to the concern of Father Coyle for the Catholics of Kingston and his zeal and devotion in doing something constructive about it.
The formal beginning of the parish, however, awaited the arrival of Reverend James Dougherty, the first pastor. His book of receipts and expenditures begins with the date, October 12, 1868. Just as the history of Kingston is the story of the early struggle of the people who made up the community, so too is the story of St. Joseph's Parish. A parish is a living organism, a smaller community living in its priests and people within a larger community. The parish itself is the result of what the priests and people contribute 10 it as well as the result of their relation to the larger community.
St. Joseph's Parish came up the hard way. It had opposition from the very beginning within the Kingston community yet it had the generous support of many community-minded members of Kingston. Father Dougherty's records show that the first collection for St. Joseph's Church received the support of not only the Catholics, but of many Protestants and Jews as well. Of the total $4,175 for the first collection. $1,310 was donated by Protestants and Jews. The second collection for the completion of the church netted $8,043.25, and again, many contributors were friends of other faiths. This fact may surprise many who think that ecumenical cooperation did not exist before Vatican II. It did. It was not known by that name but for these people it was simply community spirit in a free society.
That the Church had opposition from other members of the community is well known, and certainly prejudice against the Church was not confined to Kingston. In the light of the history of Kingston, some of the opposition to the establishment of the Catholic parish can be appreciated today. The early struggle of the community for its freedom and independence, its suffering near destruction twice from "friendly" invaders - made it suspicious of the newly arrived "foreigners." Through a sincere, but misguided, patriotism, many distrusted the Church whose ecclesiastical center was Rome. Besides its own consciousness of its history, and the political uncertainty of the times, there were those who for economic reasons felt that the presence of a Catholic church and school would depreciate property value.
Whatever the reasons, or combination of reasons, the pastors of St. Joseph's could not negotiate for property openly. Every piece of real estate bought by the church corporation in the early days was bought through agents.
Whenever it was discovered that the parish was seeking property either the price was raised beyond reasonable limit, or some other obstacle to the purchase arose.
When Father Dougherty arrived, St. Joseph's Parish did not have a church. Mass was still being offered at the schoolhouse on Fair Street and this continued until July, 1869. The present church was dedicated on July 27, 1869. The way the church was acquired was not made clear until forty-two years later, when the church was consecrated by Archbishop John M. Farley in 1908. As the local paper reported, "Many contentions concerning this matter have made it a much mooted question." But the matter was definitely settled when, in 1908, Archbishop Farley received from Mrs. Noone the old deed by which the transaction had been made. The deed of 1867 bore the signatures of Like Noone, the purchaser, and General Bates, the seller, and also the signature of John McClosky, the Bishop of New York, as approving the purchase. William C. Mulhern, one of the original members of St. Joseph's congregation, reported how the first Kingston Armory became the first Catholic church in Kingston. General Bates first suggested the idea of purchasing the property for a church to Mr. Noone, of whom he was a personal friend, in July, 1867. After a conference with Father Coyle, then pastor of St. Mary's, Rondout, Mr. Noone bought it the next day. So the property belonged to Mr. Noone two years before it was deeded to the parish and, because Mr. Noone never spoke of the method of its purchase, the impression was created that the property had been purchased directly by Father Coyle.
One of the great challenges for the new parish was to prove to all doubters that the Catholic Church in America was made up of patriotic citizens who loved their country fully as much as the early colonists who fought for democracy. This sense of challenge and dedication firmly molded the Catholic community in Kingston, and the first parishioners of St. Joseph's were exceptionally generous in the support of their new church.
The bluestone for the church and school was donated by Mr. Hallahan, Booth Brothers, Messrs. Donavan and Sweeney. The use of the house for the first pastor was given, rent free, by Michael Hallahan. The first marble altar, given in memory of Michael Hallahan, was installed at a cost of $3,124. The oil painting, formerly behind the altar, and later placed over the baptismal font in the sacristy, cost $500. The first wooden altar of the Blessed Virgin was donated by the Children of Mary, who collected $295 for its erection. The total indebtedness on the Church and school at the time of the first report issued December 1, 1868, when the groundwork was being done for the establishment of the new Parish, notes that the parishioners of his own parish, St. Mary's, Roundout, were also generous to the new church in Kingston, contributing in one collection the amount of $327.50, and he also mentions the generous subscription of $3,675 to the Kingston Church. The Wilbur school was sold to the Town of Kingston on March 2, 1871, and this helped the young parish to the amount of $866.
The first pastor stayed at Saint Joseph's Church until 1888, a period of twenty years, and at his leaving the debt on the parish plant had been reduced to $9,800. During his pastorate the church had been solidly established, and the mission at Sawkill had been started. The old school at Wilbur was sold to the City of Kingston. The Wilbur church, the parish church of the Holy Name of Jesus, was founded as an independent parish in 1887, and Saint Anne's Church in Sawkill became a separate parish in 1905.
The Reverend Edward J. Conroy was pastor from 1888 to 1891. The years of Father Conroy's stay were quite progressive years. He carried on the work of the first pastor and was succeeded in May, 1891, by the Reverend Edwin M. Sweeney, the third pastor. In 1893, the heating system broke down and it was decided to install a new boiler and steam pipes. A visitation by the pastor, Father Sweeney, and Father Dunphy, raised the funds.
When the time came to place the new boiler under the church. it was found that the beams were rotted; the wooden girders chewed to pieces by termites. This led to a critical examination of the old building. The walls were found to be out of plumb, the roof trusses in poor condition, and the roof itself spreading. The church was pronounced unsafe, and plans were made to strengthen the building.
The Bishop approved the work and $3,000 was borrowed to finance it. The ladies of the parish set about to raise funds for carpeting the church. During the pastorate of Father Sweeney, the triduum in honor of the Sacred Heart was established, and public adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on First Fridays inaugurated. The superstructure was erected on the main marble altar; a new marble altar of the Blessed Virgin, and a new marble altar and statue of Saint Joseph were erected. The debt of the parish, although increased by the alterations on the church, was reduced to $10,250.
Communion of Reparation to the Sacred Heart on the First Friday was inaugurated on November 2, 1895. A gold chalice, made from old gold and jewels contributed by the parishioners, was put into use on June 25, 1897. Father Sweeney secured permission from the Archbishop to put a new brick front on the church, and on May 1, 1898, this work was completed. Bishop Farley presided at the grand reopening of the church and blessed the statue of Saint Joseph that now stands on the facade.
The Reverend Edward J. McCue, who had been assistant priest to Father Conroy, and who was transferred in 1892 to another parish, returned as pastor on February 16, 1901, succeeding Father Sweeney who was transferred to the Church of the Ascension in New York City. Father McCue set about renovating the rectory and putting the chapel, which was later converted into a sacristy, into order. The old side walls of the chapel were torn down and replaced, and a metal ceiling put up in the chapel. Combination gas and electric fixtures, new pews, confessionals, and baptismal font and rail, new stained glass windows, and new carpet for the sanctuary were purchased and installed. In 1903, the front and sides of the church were stone-flagged, and the outside of the church and chapel was painted to match the new brick front. New gutters were put on the church, and the lawn on the Wall Street side was put into condition.
In 1904, it was decided to renovate completely the interior of the church. After this, Father McCue set about clearing the debt on the church, which had been in the neighborhood of $l0.000 almost from the beginning. This he succeeded in doing in 1908, and the church was solemnly consecrated on May 10, 1908, by the Most Reverend John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York. The Auxiliary Bishop. Patrick J. Hayes, sang the Solemn Mass at 11:00 a.m., and the Right Reverend Joseph Mooney preached the sermon.
The ceremony of consecration started at 6:00 a.m. and concluded with the Solemn Mass at 11:00 a.m. The Masses for the congregation on this day were held in the old school at Fair and Franklin Streets. where the first church services had been held. The Misses Kenny served a dinner for the sixty-five priests who were present.
Perhaps the highlight of Father McCue's pastorate was the building of a new school for St. Joseph's Parish. The school at Fair and Franklin Streets continued as the parish school from 1868 until the second school and convent at 1 Pearl Street was opened in September, 1905. The Sisters of Charity, who taught in the old school, lived at St. Mary's Convent and were driven back and forth each school day until the opening of the school at 1 Pearl Street when. for the first time. they had their own convent in this new building.
Father McCue has left an interesting account of the purchase Of Judge Alton B. Parker's home for the new school. After securing the permission of the authorities, Father McCue negotiated for the purchase of the property and proceeded through a Mr. George Downing. Because, "I would never be able to purchase it myself at any price, so strong is the spirit of the people in Kingston against Catholics, especially a parochial school." Mr. Downing successfully purchased the property for $10,000 on April 1, 1905. "On April 8, 1908," Fr. McCue continues, "our lawyer, Mr. John Cloonan and George Downing, with $10,000 in the possession, met the agents of the Philips estate at their office on Wall Street. The Kingston Saving Bank had a mortgage of $6,000 on the property, which it was anxious to continue. Consequently, $4,000 was paid in cash and the balance of the money returned to the gentlemen who had kindly lent it to me. Mr. Bernard Loughran, $3,000, Edward McGill, $3,000."
The deed was made out in the name of George Downing and afterwards transferred to St. Joseph's Church Corporation. The new venture met with the cooperation of the Parish.
Father McCue secured permission to sell the old school on March14, 1905, but this did not take place until some years later. The old school on Franklin and Fair Streets served during these years as a parish hall until 1911, when Fr. Briody sold it for $1,700. The new school at Pearl Street was opened to receive pupils during September, 1905, under the supervision of Sister Agnes Louise, the local superior of the Sisters of Charity.
At the time of the opening of the new school, a group of men. fifteen in number, called Judge Clearwater and asked him to institute proceedings to prohibit the rector. Father McCue, from using number 1 Pearl Street as a school. The Judge told them to go home and forget it, because they could gain nothing by such a step. He had examined the deed, and there were no restrictions on the use of the property. Many of the residents along Pearl Street were up in arms at the thought of a parochial school and the nuns in their midst. Yet six months after the school was in operation. these same people were the staunchest friends of the sisters and the school.
The new school was put over in grand style on Labor Day, September 8, 1906, when a handsome American flag was raised on the school grounds. This flag was a gift of Mr. James A. Winne. More than two thousand people assembled for the ceremony: a large platform was erected on the school grounds and decked with American flags. Father MeCue, in writing about this event, said. "Representatives of the parish, the officers of A.O.H. (Ancient Order of Hibernians), and the principal officers of the city administration were on the platform." The 250 children of the parish were arranged around the platform and sang patriotic songs. The Reverend Daniel Quinn, S.J., President of Fordham University. was the orator and, according to the records, he did a grand job. The Honorable A. Van Buren delivered a very happy talk. The flag was raised by James A. Winne . This event helped to convince any remaining doubters of the full patriotism of the parochial school and all that it stands for.
Father McCue had a most successful administration as rector. He cleared the debt on the church and, on July 10, 1910, paid the balance of the debt on the school at 1 Pearl Street. After this fine record, combining hard work with good judgment and a fine business sense, Father McCue was transferred to the Parish of St. Rose of Lima in New York City on July 17, 1910.
Reverend John Briody was appointed to succeed Father MeCue and continued as pastor from 1910 until his death on February 28, 1922. During his pastorate, the old school at Franklin and Fair Streets, which Father McCue had used as a parish hall, was sold for $1,700. Father Briody redecorated the church. This work was done by Panzarone, a famous church decorator.
Father Briody was also responsible for the erection of the school at the corner of Wall and Pearl Streets. The history of the negotiation for the purchase of this property is as intriguing as that of the school at 1 Pearl Street.
On November 11, 1911, Margaret Green died. She was the last of the family that lived next to the rectory. This lot was always considered as the ideal spot for the school. Father Sweeney, during his time, endeavored to secure it, but failed; Father Briody set about securing it as the sight for the new school. He was advised by Father Sweeney to see Judge Van Etten, a nephew of Margaret Green. Edward McGill introduced Father Briody to Judge Van Etten. The trustees at the time, Mr. James Phelan and Mr. J. J. Campbell, endorsed the plan. The consulters of the diocese gave permission to pay as high as $10,000 for the property. Judge Van Etten set the price at $20,000.
On March 15, 1912, Father Briody ordered his architect, Mr. Arthur Longyear, to draw up plans for the new school. On March 23, Judge Van Etten sent for Father Briody to come to see him and his brother. At this conference the price of the property was put at $15,000. Father Briody offered $10,000, which was refused with the statement that the property had been in the family for 102 years and they did not care to sell it. Father Briody then engaged Mr. Codwise to act for him, and an offer was made by him to buy the property at $13,000. When the diocesan consulters met, Father Briody went before them and stated his case. Permission was granted to sell the old school site for $10,000 and to buy the new property for $15,000.
Upon search, the title was found to be defective. Father Briody refused to buy and got in touch with Cardinal Farley. In the meantime, the missing deeds were filed and the property was finally bought for $13,000. The trustees of St. Joseph's Church with Father Briody, met at the Cardinal's residence on May 13, 1912. It was moved to sell the old school for $10,000 and to buy the new property. A resolution was drawn with the approbation of the Cardinal to apply to the Supreme Court for permission to borrow $35,000 from the Kingston Savings Bank on the newly acquired property in order to finance the building the new school and convent.
The new school was the crowning achievement of the pastorate of Father Briody, and during his years at St. Joseph's the debt on the school was completed. Long before he died, the property was again free and clear of debt, due to his hard work and the great generosity of the parishioners. Father Briody died on February 25, 1922.
Reverend Joseph G. Cushman, who came to Kingston from St. Mary's Church in Saugerties, succeeded Father Briodv and remained pastor until 1925. Father Cushman's short administration was distinguished on the financial side. The boilers in the church were rebuilt and rebuilt. The school was rewired, as the insulation had broken down. In 1923, a new floor was laid down in the present sacristy, which was used as a chapel. An electric motor was set into the organ to replace the old water motor. The organ was completely overhauled and the stained-glass windows repaired and reloaded. The school was painted during 1923. On March 5. 1923, Father Cushman was appointed Dean of Ulster and Sullivan Counties. During 1924, the last payment was made on the horse for St. Joseph's Seminary. In 1925, Father Cushman had the brackets between the roof and the ceiling reinforced by placing iron straps from the roof beam to the ceiling girders. The galleries were reinforced at the same time.
On November 21. 1925. Father Cushman was transferred to the Church of the Holy Trinity in New York City.
Reverend Louis M. Cusack succeeded to the pastorate of St. Joseph's and continued here until his death in January, 1939. During his pastorate, many improvements were made. A new boiler and oil burners for the church and rectory were installed, also oil burners in the school and convent. New rubber tiling was laid in the church, rectory and convent. The convent was redecorated, and the rectory was completely renovated and put into splendid condition. The church was cleaned and new rubber kneelers were installed on the kneeling benches. The galleries were renovated and made comfortable. The sacristy was done over and new vestment cases installed. The administration was marked by many improvements and by financial stability. The property was maintained in good condition.
Upon his death, Father Cusack was succeeded by Reverend John P. McCaffrey, who was appointed, first, administrator, and then pastor in March, 1939. Father McCaffrey built a new garage and living quarters for the maids in the rectory. He also redecorated the church interior, and a new bronze grille, the gift of Mrs. Vincent A. Gorman, in memory of her husband, was installed. The school was painted inside and out, and the convent was painted outside. The church and rectory were repainted to conform with the brick front. New leaders and gutters were put on the church and rectory, and a new roof was put on the rectory. The heating plant in the school was overhauled and renovated to keep the school warm in zero weather. A coal stoker was installed in the school and in the church to meet the requirements of the government during the oil shortage.
The convent was also redecorated and repainted to welcome a new community of sisters to teach at St. Joseph's School. The Sisters of Charity had served loyally for eighty years, and the parish expressed its gratitude by donating a room in the Cardinal Hayes High School. With sadness, an era of parochial education had ended, yet with gladness, a new one was about to begin. The Sisters of St. Ursula and the Blessed Virgin were coming to replace the Sisters of Charity.
St. Joseph's Parish celebrated its Diamond Jubilee in 1943. The occasion was marked by the publication of the Diamond Jubilee Journal, but the joy of the parishioners was marred because of World War II, with many parish sons in battle across the Atlantic and Pacific and the restrictions at home in their severest and most critical stage. The parish was shortly to be further saddened by the loss of their pastor after only five years of pastorate which encompassed the worst of the war years.
In 1944, Monsignor Stephen P. Connelly began the last quarter of the first century of St. Joseph's Parish. Monsignor Connelly was to serve the people of St. Joseph's and the community of Kingston for nineteen years, during which time he endeared himself to all. The testimonial to that, though in the hearts and memories of those who knew him over the years, was perhaps best expressed in the dinner given in his honor on the occasion of his Golden Jubilee in the priesthood. The dinner was held at the Governor Clinton Hotel on June 4, 1962, with Lawrence A. Quilty and Charles H. Gaffney as Co-Chairmen, and Nicholas Reis and Mrs. George Carpenter, committee members. Guests included, besides the distinguished clergy, Honorable John J. Schwenk, Mayor of Kingston, and Honorable John M. Cashin, U.S. District Court Judge.
Monsignor Connelly's concern for the convenience of his parishioners led to the construction of St. Joseph's Mission in Hurley in 1962. Now about 600 parishioners can attend Mass at the mission church on Sundays. The two Sunday Masses at the mission provide the people in the Hurley area with a convenient time and location for Niass and relieves the congestion in the mother church in Kingston.
Perhaps of all the projects over the years to which Monsignor Connely dedicated himself, the dearest one to his heart he would not live to see dedicated. He had seen the parish grow during and after the war, and he knew that another school building was needed to fill present and future needs. With the architect, Mr. Milliken , he planned a two-story L-shaped structure with a full basement which would provide eight additional classrooms, play area, cafeteria, meeting room, auditorium-gymnasium, health room, office space, and faculty room.
Ground-breaking ceremonies for the $45O,OOO structure took place on Saturday, February 24, 1962. The first spade of earth was turned by Monsignor Connelly. Members of the clergy and representatives of parish societies followed. Among those participating in the ceremonies were Monsignor Shea, Dean of Ulster County; Mayor John J. Schwenk; Albert E. Milliken, architect; George E. Swart, contractor; Mother Marguerite, former principal; and Mother Mary Gertrude, principal of St. Joseph School. Troop No.3, Boy Scouts of St. Joseph's, served as color guard. That this was one of the happiest moments in Monsignor Connelly's pastorate is expressed in the dedicatory address:
"For fifty years, the red brick schoolhouse across the street has been the religious training center of this parish. Thousands of young men and young ladies have come to it and learned of Christ and His great redeeming love for us. They have gone out from it to bring Christ into the homes, and streets and offices of Kingston, in fact they brought the message of God's love to all they met. Please God, all the children who go out from this new school, will go out filled with that same love of God and country and fulfill the purpose of every Catholic school."
The school building rose and was completed as planned; it was opened for use in September; but Monsignor Connelly died on October 8, 1963. St. Joseph's parishioners, young and old, mourned the death of a dear friend, a dedicated pastor and a devoted father. In the sadness of genuine loss, the parishioners awaited the assignment of a new pastor until December, 1963.
The Sisters of St. Ursula were already familiar figures in Kingston when, in 1943, they assumed the staffing of St. Joseph's School. In 1925, they had founded the Academy of St. Ursula at "Marygrove" near Kingston Point. While boys were accepted in the kindergarten and lower grades, St. Ursula's was a "girls' school," in keeping with the mission of the order.
Nearly 400 years old, the Society of St. Ursula, not to be confused with the Ursulines, was founded in 1606 in Dole, France by Anne de Xainctonge, a wealthy woman whose home looked out on a Jesuit school for boys. Watching the activity of the boys from her win-dows, Anne became determined to offer the same educational opportunity to girls.
Despite family opposition that finally forced her to leave home, Anne founded the Society of St. Ursula with the mission to educate girls both rich and poor. It was the first non-cloistered teaching order of sisters in the Church.
At the start of this century, the society, along with other religious orders in France, faced fierce opposition in its own country and, finally, expulsion. Some sisters fled to Belgium and Italy, while three set sail for New York, their meager possessions able to be carted in a wheelbarrow. They were given a home at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish on West 142nd St. in exchange for teach-teaching French and piano lessons. They were poor to the point of scavenging the banks of the Hudson River for driftwood and lumps of coal to feed their little stove. When the parish opened a school in 1903, the sisters took over teaching kindergarten through grade four, and, eventually, started an academy. In 1943, it opened in its own spacious quarters on West 79th Street as the Academy of Notre Dame. Forced to move a few years ago, it is now located downtown on St. Mark's Place.
Over the next several decades, the sisters extended their teaching apostolates to Cathedral High School in New York City, Providence and Milwaukee. They also began doing missionary work in Louisiana, North Carolina and Zalre, Africa.
In 1966, the Academy of St. Ursula became Coleman High School and co-ed, and, in 1968, moved to a large new complex, its current campus, on Hurley Avenue. In the last decade, the sisters relinquished the task of administrating Coleman, and they also no longer administer St. Joseph's parish school. In 1978, the first lay principal, Susan Keizer, assumed the task. The number of lay teachers increased also in the 70s and today, with the exception of one sister, lay people comprise the total teaching staff.
In the 1970's, options for women in religious life expanded and some of the sisters, finding themselves called to other ministries, left the classroom. Sister Isaac Jogues became involved in building housing for the homeless in Wilmington, N.C., and was cited by the governor for her accomplishments. Sister Mary Eileen and others spent many years at the Zaire mission, where Sister Barbara still works despite dangerous conditions. Others labor closer to home in social work in Providence, and at their Retreat Center at Linwood where they also care for their elder-elderly sisters. The order currently has 45 members in the United States.
In 1993, only one, Sister Mary Dorothy, remains on the staff of the parish school where she is the librarian. Except for a few years in Milwaukee, Sister Dorothy has been here since 1955. Watching the way people's faces light up when they see her, it is clear that Sister Dorothy is an important link for them to an important past. It is clear that she and her fellow sisters lit many lamps for many parishioners over the past 50 years.