One of the great joys of living in a city is the potential of discovering a secret area. Somewhere to pause and take a breath from the day, seemingly hidden away from the rest of the world.
For many Rochesterians, St. Joseph’s Park, located on Franklin Street downtown, is just that — a little green spot hiding smack dab in the heart of the city.
It’s a fascinating resurrection of the former St. Joseph Church, an important piece of civic history.
The church was the largest German parish in Western New York for over 130 years, including a bell tower that was built in 1909. That changed in October 1974, thanks to a four-alarm fire that destroyed most of the church.
Because the city had decreed it a landmark, demolition was illegal and out of the question.
But thanks to a handful of groups – church owners the Redemptorist Fathers, the Landmark Society of Western New York, SUNY Brockport, and the city itself – the church’s tower and courtyard were saved and the surrounding land was converted into a small park that opened six years later.
The property remains an active spot for family and wedding photos, and yes, the occasional break from the world.