Saint Joseph, Natrona
This parish is presently located at:
St. Joseph was founded in 1883. However, the origin of the parish can be traced back to 1852. In that year, the Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing Company built salt works on the Allegheny River. The town of Natrona developed as workers arrived in the area to work in the new industry. A significant number of these workers were Catholic. At first they had to travel to Freeport to attend Mass. In 1858, the pastor of St. Mary, Father Richard Phelan who later became bishop, began celebrating Mass periodically in private homes in Natrona.
In 1868, the salt company donated land for a church. A small frame church was built that summer and dedicated on August 22, 1868. At this point, Mass was celebrated in the church twice a month. The population continued to grow and the church had to be enlarged in 1874 and again in 1875. Beginning in 1876, Mass was celebrated at St. Joseph weekly.
In 1883, the parish became independent with the assignment of a resident pastor. In 1887, the parish purchased land for a new church, school, rectory and convent. Work on the church began in 1895. On August 4, 1895, the cornerstone of the church was laid. The completed church was dedicated in April of 1897. Sometimes afterward, the original church was dismantled and the land returned to the salt company.
This church served the community for close to a century. Over the years, the church was renovated several times and survived the flood of 1936 and a fire in 1965. However, it could not survive the loss of population in the area in the late twentieth century.
By 1992, it became obvious that Natrona could no longer support three independent parishes. In that year, St. Joseph merged with St. Ladislaus and St. Mathias to form a new parish, which was named St. Joseph. St. Joseph Church was closed as part of the merger and the building was destroyed in a fire on January 30, 2001.