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Shrine of St. Joseph

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Built in 1846, with substantial remodeling completed in 1866 by the Jesuits to serve the German population of the Near North Side, the Shrine of St. Joseph is one of the oldest buildings still left in the city. The lavish Baroque facade, from 1881 (bizarrely and incorrectly described as Romanesque at the shrine’s website) seems appropriate for the Jesuits, whose elaborate home church of the Gesu in Rome was the model for many of the religious order’s churches around the world.

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The towers once possessed much taller, Baroque style tops, but they were removed in the 1950s due to stability and an obvious change in taste in the middle of Twenteith Century.

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The articulated facade, with its pilasters, lunettes and balustrade also speak to the Baroque style.

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Interestingly, the side elevations are more simple, with a classical pilastered arcade of windows.

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The church now sits in a strange neighborhood just north of downtown; rebuilt in 1980s, the surrounding townhomes are well maintained, but not particularly lively.

One Comment

  1. Have you seen the interior of St. Joseph Shrine? It is breathtaking. I believe we should restore the towers to its original glory. The Catholic Church has produced some the greatest architecture. We need to restore as much of its glorious architecture as possible. The middle of the twentieth century along with the modernism destroyed much of the glorious architecture. So sad. I am happy to see places like St. Francis de Sales Church in South City (the Cathedral of the South Side) thrive. Lots of young people are going there and attend the traditional Latin Mass. That church is being restored and the outside will also be in due time to its original splendour.

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