Saint Joseph Church and Shrine

8742 US-12, Cambridge Township, Michigan


Street View 


A two sided Michigan Historical Marker here reads: St. Joseph's Church

St. Joseph's Church originated as a missionary church during the 1850s. Priests from Adrian, Clinton, Manchester, Tecumseh and Monroe served the parish until the first resident priest arrived in 1954. The original church, which is still part of the present structure, was constructed by Irish pioneers. In 1863 the first Mass was held in the church, The tower and stained-glass windows were added in 1911. In 1928, Father Joseph Pfeffer from St. Mary's in Manchester served here and oversaw the enlargement and remodeling of the church to its present form. The transept was built and nave enlarged, transforming the church to a cruciform plan. The red tile roof, the tower and the use of mosaic, tile and wrought iron in the interior give the church its Spanish Mission flavor.

Side 2: St. Joseph's Shrine

As part of the 1928 expansion of St. Joseph's Church, a shrine -- inspired by the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in France -- was designed. In 1932 work began on the fourteen outdoor stations of the cross, which depict scenes of the Via Dolorosa (the sorrowful way), that Jesus walked to Calvary. The footpath begins at a replica of Pontius Pilates's palace then winds past balconied houses, through the judgment gate and ends at Christ's tomb. The crucifixion scene is sculpted from Carrara marble. Two Mexican artisans, Dionicio Rodriguez and Ralph Corona, under the supervision of Leo Ouelette, sculpted the steps, archways and railings from wet cement to resemble stone and timber.

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on May 4, 2007
Reference number
Architectural styles
Late 19th and 20th Century Revival: Mission/Spanish Revival; Other architectural type; Trabajo Rustico
Areas of significance
Architecture; Art; Ethnic Heritage - Hispanic
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic functions
Religious structure; Church related residence; Cemetery
Current functions
Religious structure; Church related residence
Periods of significance
1850-1874; 1875-1899; 1900-1924; 1925-1949; 1950-1974
Significant years
1854; 1928; 1930
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 1
Contributing structures: 11
Contributing sites: 2
Contributing objects: 5
Non-contributing structures: 4