134 Farmington Ave. Hartford, CT 06105 860-541-6491

sjcathedral01a

July 17, 1872
Purchase of the old Morgan estate on Farmington Avenue for $75,000 by Bishop Patrick F. McFarland.

Nov. 27, 1873
Dedication of the chapel of the Sisters of Mercy by Bishop McFarland; chapel was to serve as the pro-Cathedral until the Cathedral would be built.

Aug. 30, 1876
Breaking of ground for the construction of the Cathedral by Bishop Thomas Galberry, O.S.A.

Sep. 13, 1876
First stone laid by Bishop Galberry.

Apr. 29, 1877
Cornerstone laid by Bishop Galberry.

Feb. 10, 1878
Basement of the Cathedral dedicated and opened for worship by Bishop Galberry.

May 1881
Work begun on the superstructure.

May 8, 1892
Dedication and consecration of the Cathedral by Bishop Lawrence S. McMahon, culminating two decades of planning and building by three bishops. Approximate cost of $500,000 paid by this time. The architect was Patrick C. Keely of New York.

1937-1939
Work done to sink a new foundation made necessary for the safety and security of the building. The interior of the Cathedral, both upper and lower church, was completely redecorated. Many alterations were also made, including changes in the arrangement of the choir loft and sanctuary.

Dec. 31, 1956
Fire of undetermined origin destroyed the Cathedral, leaving nothing to be salvaged according to experts.

Spring 1957
Fundraising campaign launched with Chief Justice Edward J. Daly of the Connecticut Supreme Court of Errors as general chairman and E. Clayton Gengras as chairman of the special gifts committee. Contributions were made principally by Catholics, though Protestants and Jews also gave.

Aug.-Dec. 1957
Eggers and Higgins, New York architects, submitted designs and a contemporary design with a flavoring of the traditional was chosen.

1957-1959
In the beginning Sunday Mass was celebrated in the State Armory made available by Governor Abraham Ribicoff. Later, parishioners attended Sunday Masses in the auditorium of the Aetna Life Insurance Company building, directly opposite the cathedral site.

Sep. 8, 1958
Groundbreaking for the new Cathedral by Archbishop Henry J. O’Brien.

Dec. 24, 1960
Blessing of lower church by Auxiliary Bishop John F. Hackett. Midnight Mass celebrated by Archbishop O’Brien.

Feb. 10, 1961
Consecration of 12 carillon bells by Archbishop O’Brien.

Oct. 3, 1961
Cornerstone laid by Auxiliary Bishop Hackett.

Apr. 3, 1962
Cross for tower blessed by Archbishop O’Brien.

May 15, 1962
Consecration of the completed Cathedral of St. Joseph by Auxiliary Bishop Hackett.

Some Significant Events

Since the dedication of the first Cathedral in 1878, the Cathedral of St. Joseph has been the scene of many important and historic events in the life of the Church in Connecticut. It has witnessed

  • the consecration of Bishops Lawrence S. McMahon, Michael Tierney, John J. Nilan, Maurice F. McAuliffe, Henry J. O’Brien (both as bishop and first archbishop), John F. Whealon as second archbishop, and Daniel A. Cronin as third archbishop;
  • the consecration of Auxiliary Bishops John G. Murray (later Archbishop of St. Paul, Minnesota), John F. Hackett, Joseph F. Donnelly, Peter A. Rosazza, Paul S. Loverde and Christie Macaluso;
  • the consecration of Missionary Bishops Paul J. Girouard, M.S. and Edward A. McGurkin, M.M.;
  • the ordination of priests for the archdiocese;
  • investiture in the religious habit and the taking of vows by the Sisters of Mercy; and finally,
  • religious services for numerous church organizations. It has hosted Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, in an ecumenical prayer service.

Rectors of the Cathedral include Reverends Joseph B. Reid, E.M. Hickey*, Michael F. Kelly, William A. Harty, Philip J. McCabe, Walter J. Shanley, Thomas S. Duggan, D.D., V.G., William H. Flynn, William J. Collins, V.G., John S. Kennedy, Denis P. Ferrigno, Charles B. Johnson, Christie A. Macaluso, Daniel J. Plocharczyk, Robert Bergin and Monsignor John J. McCarthy.

* From Msgr. Wm. Kearney’s notes: When Rev. Joseph B. Reid, Secretary to Bishop McFarland, became the first rector of the Cathedral, he was assisted in the administration of the parish by Rev. E.M. Hickey. Fr. Hickey came to Hartford from the Newark Diocese and after leaving here joined the Diocese of Wheeling, West Virginia.