As the remaining parishes reached milestone anniversaries, parishioners experienced a renewed interest in their ethnic heritage, and looked for ways to celebrate their legacy with official historic status. Three of Globeville's ethnic churches have received historic designation: St. Joseph's Polish Roman Catholic Church is on the National Register, while both Holy Transfiguration Cathedral and Holy Rosary Parish are on the Colorado State Register. St. Joseph's at 517 East 46th Avenue, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
The listing from the National Register states that "the Gothic style church was constructed in 1902 to serve Polish immigrants in the Globeville suburb of Denver." What the description doesn't say is that Globeville's Poles were from the Russian-controlled Plock region of Poland, where their religion, language and culture had been suppressed, that they would save for nearly 20 years, and then petition the German-born Bishop Matz to build a parish "exclusively for the Polanders." The congregation obtained Father Jarzynski (a Holy Cross priest from the same Plock region as many parishioners) and held Mass, confession, baptism and marriages in the home of Frank Wargin until the church was completed on Christmas Day, 1902. The church was a connection to Poland at a time the nation had ceased to exist, and much of the life of the Polish community was centered around St. Joseph's. There were processions for the feast of Corpus Christi, blessings of food before Easter, as well as Mass after the secular celebrations of Polish Constitution Day and the birthday of Casimir Pulaski. There was the Polish Literary Club, an organization for young people, that produced Polish plays, raising money for the parish and entertaining the community. There were also choirs, music performances, fraternal organizations, mock Polish weddings and parish bazaars.
The parish survived the Depression, World War II, assimilation, the division of the neighborhood by interstate highways and inadequate services from the city of Denver to make it for 110 years. With an infusion of new arrivals from Poland and enthusiastic support from the descendants of the founders, St. Joseph's is again the source of Polish culture, with Masses in both English and Polish, Polish language classes, Polish music and dance performances. Visit the website, or stop by (Lent is coming!) and experience the rich faith, food, culture and traditions of Poles in Globeville.
St Joseph's Polish Roman Catholic Church
Funeral at St. Joseph's circa 1910, Photo® property of Mary Lou Egan
St. Joseph's circa 2013, photo® property of Mary Lou Egan