Monday, January 1, 2024 - Happy New Year!
Architecture, Stained Glass Windows Highlighted in Historic Church Tour
ABOVE: Sophia Byers, daughter of Derrick and Anne Byers, explains details on Joseph’s statue inside St. Joseph Catholic Church during an architectural tour Saturday. | photo by KRISTIAAN RAWLINGS
Catholic churches often are among the most ornate buildings in American cities, and Shelbyville’s St. Joseph Catholic Church is no exception.
“The history of this parish is very rich and very diverse,” Gaye McKenney, church events and outreach director, said at Saturday’s public tour of the historic building.
The local Catholic congregation started in the homes of German and Irish immigrants before moving to rented rooms downtown Shelbyville.
“The priests would accommodate the two different cultures with alternate recitations of the rosary,” McKenney said. “One Sunday morning, the recitation of the rosary would be in English, and the following Sunday the recitation of the rosary would be in German.”
Church members eventually built a sanctuary, now the rectory, on East Broadway. When it was time for a larger edifice, the property next door seemed a logical fit, but there was a problem: rail tracks ran through the lot.
Many local residents, the priest and a judge prevailed on the two involved railroad companies to adjust the crossing. The companies finally relented, moving the tracks to their current location further east on Broadway.
“It was such a celebration, when they finally moved it, that the townsfolk tore down the crossbars, started a bonfire and had fireworks,” McKenney said.
The new sanctuary was built in 1908 with the Romanesque architecture of vaulted ceilings, rounded arches and sturdy pillars familiar to the early members’ heritages. The church is designed in the cruciform shape.
The tour started at the north entrance, a vestibule area called the Narthex, where statues, a holy water urn and a decorative baptismal font are located. Tour leader Sophia Byers spoke over the sound of the pipe organ, played by Curtis Davies, who said the organ had been installed in 1912.
“It was considered to be state-of-the-art at the time,” Davies said of the pneumatic design. He said the organ became “fully electric” in the late 1970s and completely rebuilt a few years ago.
The sanctuary also includes separate statues of Mary and Joseph. “A lot of people think Catholics pray to saints. That’s not true; we just ask for intercession, sort of like how you might ask your mom to pray for you,” Byers said.
Behind Mary, and to the left of the high altar, is the area where altar servers prepare for Mass. A large wood cabinet holds the priest’s vestments, or robes, for various occasions, such as Christmas and All Souls Day. An attendee asked about a rack of black shoes in the back.
“Those shoes are just in case the boys forget to bring (a black pair),” Byers said.
McKenney then walked through Bible stories depicted on the church’s 12 stained glass windows, designed by a Cincinnati company with antique glass imported from France, which was painted and fired using a hard-firing process that accentuates the deep jewel-toned colors.
“When the sun comes up in the morning during school mass, this window just looks like it's on fire,” McKenney said of the Nativity of Christ scene. “The colors just kind of pop out. The windows are opulent without being overdone.”
The names of donors are at the bottoms of the glass, and the iron supports for the windows occasionally must be redone.
The church is now working on a master plan. The $12 million project would further the mission of the local parish, Bryan Fischer, who presented the plan along with Father Mike Keucher, said at its 2021 unveiling. The church has raised close to $8 million so far, according to the most recent bulletin.
BELOW: Gaye McKenney explains the significance of stained glass windows in St. Joseph Catholic Church. | photo by KRISTIAAN RAWLINGS
There will be no city trash pick-up today. Monday’s trash will be collected Tuesday, Jan. 2, but not Monday’s recycling, which will be delayed until next Monday, Jan. 8. Both Tuesday’s trash and recycling will be collected on Tuesday, Jan. 2. Regular trash and recycling collection routes resume Wednesday, Jan. 3.
This Day in Shelby County History
2014: Sereniti Wright, daughter of Brianna Wright, was the first Shelby County baby of the year, born at 10:55 a.m.
Big Jim’s Village Pub closed. A crowd of 50 gathered for a final meal. Owner Louise Snider-Smith was retiring after 40 years of involvement with the bar.
After reciting a pledge affirming their sanity, “polar bears” plunged into the Fairland Recreational Center waters as a fundraiser for the Fairland Fire Department. Terry Kuhn was organizer. The water temperature was 39 degrees.
2004: Scott Furgeson served his first official day on the job as mayor. He had reduced his hours to part-time at Cagney’s throughout December as he organized his staff. Instead of supervising 30 people at Cagney’s, he would be overseeing more than 200 on the city’s payroll. Major challenges to address would be the fire station location issue, problems in the police department, cleaning up downtown and figuring out how to pay the city’s share of the $12.4 million Southeast Corridor project, The Shelbyville News reported. The city had obtained grants to cover some costs, but still needed about $5 million.
Vyolettte Elaine Hastings was the first Shelby County baby of the year.
1994: Cheyenne Renae Brewer, daughter of Junior and Tammy Brewer, was the first Shelby County baby of the year, born at 3:19 p.m.
The Polar Bear club from Indianapolis took their annual new-year plunge at 2 p.m. at Fairland Recreation Park. The temperature was 33 degrees.
1984: Natalie Renee Drake, daughter of Tim and Melissa Drake, was Shelby County’s first baby of the year, born at 12:55 a.m. Natalie, who was due to arrive Christmas Day, was the couple’s first child.
Police investigated a number of break-ins that occurred in the Knauf employee parking lot near John and Elizabeth streets. A citizen’s band radio and fishing equipment were stolen from Gary Bowlby’s van. Jeff Spurling and Nancy DePrez reported stereo equipment had been stolen from their cars.
1974: Charles Matthew Kinsey, born at 7:32 p.m. and delivered by Dr. W.R. Tindall, was the first Shelby County baby of the year. The baby’s father, Charles Kinsey, was a government and U.S. history teacher at Shelbyville High School and his mother was Carol (Wilson). Charles Matthew was their first child.
Light snow fell throughout the day. The temperature was 0.
1964: Local residents were caught by surprise when three inches of snow fell between 4 a.m. and noon.
1954: Deborah Lynn Morrell, born at Major Hospital at 4:14 a.m., was the first Shelby County baby of the year and winner of prizes from 28 merchants.
The fire department reorganized, with Shelbyville firemen tasked with fires in the city and Addison, Marion and Shelby townships. The other townships would have contracts with volunteer companies. Also, two new firemen, Wayne Williamson and Robert Myers, started their careers with the department.
1944: Eight more Shelby County men were inducted into the U.S. Army: Earl Priddy, Vernon Blocher, Harold Neil, Walter Beyer, Earl Quick, Kenneth Roll, Kenneth Peck and Clifford Harrell.
1934: “To the strains of popular music, the shuff-shuff of dancing feet, the loud blasts of bombshells, strident summons of church bells, and complaints of those sleepers who take their New Year as a matter of routine, 1934 burst on Shelbyville’s horizon at 12, midnight, and January 1, unnaturally warm and murky instead of cold and snappy, began to dawn soon thereafter,” The Republican reported. There were two public parties: a high school alumni party and dance at the Golden Glow Annex and a Phi Delta Kappa fraternity party at the Strand Alcazar. Neither of those were responsible for the “firing of bombs in North Harrison Street,” the paper said.
1924: Squire Harry C. Ray reported he had married 34 couples in Shelbyville in 1923.
The first false fire alarm of the year was at the stroke of midnight, Jan. 1, 1924, when new year’s revelers pulled the box alarm at the corner of South and Tompkins streets. The suspects were long gone by the time the department arrived.
1914: A thirty-eight caliber bullet fired on East Jackson Street to celebrate the new year severed a Bell Telephone Company cable, putting 25 phones out of order.
Edward Shekel and Ella Campbell, both of Fountaintown, were the first wedded Shelby County couple in 1914. “The marriage came as a surprise to everybody,” The Republican said. “Nobody even surmised that they were engaged.” The Fountaintown M.E. Church had been enjoying a watch party. When the clock struck midnight, the pastor announced the surprise wedding ceremony, which took less than five minutes.