The Land of the
by Mary Ann Olding
The cultural landscape of Ohio's Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches Scenic Byway Corridor remains centered on agriculture and the strong heritage of the European Catholic immigrant settlements in the region. In addition to the German Catholics who arrived in 1832 at Minster, there were also communities of Quaker, French, Irish, black and Welsh entering northwest Ohio that has productive farmland located at the summit of flat land between Cincinnati on the Ohio River and Toledo on Lake Erie.
At first, Itinerant priests traveled miles to minister to the widely scattered clusters of pioneers under the guidance of Irish native Father John B. Purcell. In 1833, he was named Bishop of the newly formed Diocese of Cincinnati. In 1844 Father Francis DeSales Brunner arrived in western Ohio with seven priests just as the Miami & Erie Canal neared completion. The late 18th century trails of native Indian nations and military campaigns allowed limited rugged travel, but the canal provided easy access to the rich farmland. By the turn of the 19th century more than 40 Catholic parishes and six convents for the Sisters of the Precious Blood made their mark on the region with churches, schools, rectories, teacher’s houses, convents and cemeteries as well as a seminary that became the international headquarters for the Society of the Precious Blood Catholic Order, and the area became known as the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches.
The Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches State Scenic Byway crosses the Miami & Erie Canal Scenic Byway at Minster. After several years of research and travel, historian Mary Ann Olding, Regional Preservation Office for the Ohio Historical Society wrote the nomination of the many ecclesiastical buildings of the Catholic communities located along the scenic byway and dozens more to the National Register of Historic Places, as it is the most concentrated religious thematic group in the United States.
Map and List of Byway Assets
This 39 mile scenic byway consists of more than fifty buildings representing the German Catholic settlements of southern Auglaize and Mercer Counties, as well as portions of northern Darke and Shelby Counties, which were placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Consisting of churches, schools, rectories and convents, this grouping is symbolic of the cultural and historical uniqueness of the region. Today, these structures remind us of the hard work and dedication of these early settlers as they built the Miami-Erie Canal and forged a new life on the area’s rich and productive farmland. Trips through the rural countryside follow the quaint churches with their cross tipped “spires to heaven” and include stops at the focal points of the region: the former convent at Maria Stein; St. Augustine Church - the original Mother Church of the area at Minster and the St. Charles Center, the magnificent and impressive former seminary at Carthagena.
Immaculate Conception Rectory 116 N. Mill Street, Botkins, Ohio
Gruenwald Convent (PRIVATE RESIDENCE) Cassella-Montezuma Road,
Holy Family Church (1866) 14 E. Wood St., Frenchtown
Holy Trinity Church and Rectory (1899) 116 E. Main Street, Coldwater, Ohio
Immaculate Conception Church Complex (1903)229 W. Anthony Street, Celina, 45822
Precious Blood School and Rectory (1903) 35 S. Maple Street, Chickasaw,Ohio
Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church and rectory (1858) 6524 State Route 119, Cassella
National Marian Shrine of the Holy Relics (1892) and Former Convent (1900) 2291 St. Johns Road, Maria Stein, Ohio, 45860
Sacred Heart of Jesus Rectory (1911) demolished 9377 OH-119, Anna, OH 45302
St. Aloysius Church (1878) 6032 OH-274, (Carthagena) Celina, OH 45822
St. Anthony Church (1869 471 St. Anthony Rd., St. Anthony
St. Augustine Church (1849) 48 N. Hanover, Minster
St. Bernard Church and Rectory (1924) 71 W. Main St., Burkettsville, Ohio 45310
St. Charles Seminary and Chapel (1906) U.S. Route 127, Carthagena
St. Francis Church and Rectory (1906) 1509 Cranberry Rd., Cranberry Prairie
St. Henry Church (1897) 272 E. Main St., St. Henry
St. John Church and Parish Hall (1850) Schemel and Van Buren Streets, Fryburg, Ohio
St. John the Baptist Church and Rectory (1889) 8533 State Route 119, Maria Stein
St. Joseph Church and Rectory (1887) State Route 364, Egypt
St. Joseph Church and Rectory (1866) 1689 St. Joseph Rd., St. Joseph
St. Joseph Church and School (1911) 101 W. Pearl St., Wapakoneta
St. Louis Church and Rectory (1914) 15 Star Rd., North Star
St. Mary Church and Rectory (1871) 3821 Philothea Rd., Philothea
St. Michael Church Complex (1881) 33 Elm St., Ft. Loramie
St. Nicholas Church and Rectory (1908) 128 Church St., Osgood
St. Patrick Church (1884) Glynwood Rd., Glynwood
St. Patrick Church and Rectory Marker Hoying and Wright-Puthoff Rds., St. Patrick
St. Paul Church and Rectory (1888) Sharpsburg Rd., Sharpsburg
St. Peter Church and Rectory (1904) 1477 Philothea Rd., Fort Recovery, Ohio. 45846
St. Remy Church (1840) 108 E. Main Street, Russia
St. Rose Church Complex (1911) 7428 State Route 119, St. Rose
St. Sebastian Church and Rectory (1903) 3280 County Rd 716A, St. Sebastian
St. Wendelin Church Complex (1870) 2980 Ft. Recovery-Minster Road, Wendelin, Ohio
Trinity Church Complex (1885) State Route 67, Trinity, IN
Churches and Other
Sacred Spaces Along the Byway
to View a short video on the
Maria Stein Shrine.
Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics
2291 St. Johns Road, Maria Stein, Ohio 45860
Maria Stein Convent (1860) Shrine of the Holy Relics (1892) Motherhouse (1901) (First Floor of 1860 Convent remains as an enclosed patio/courtyard, Gate House c 1860 and Saxon-style barn c. 1860, demolished 1999)
The first-story walls of the original red brick convent still stand and serve as a courtyard to the west behind the convent and chapels. Mary of the Rock Convent was established in 1844 at St. John's, Maria Stein (translated from German) by the Society of the Precious Blood led by Father Francis de Sales Brunner. He and other priests had arrived in Ohio in the 1840s from Switzerland, and established what flourished and became known as the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches in the region of Mercer and Auglaize Counties.
Father Brunner acquired large parcels of land and constructed ten convents in various settlements in Northwest and West Central Ohio. Four were built in counties to the north of Glandorf, and six were centered around the Maria Stein Convent of the Sisters of the Precious Blood, C. PP. S. (Congregatio Pretiosissimi Sanguinis).
The first permanent brick convent, built in 1860, became the residence of Mother M. Kunigunda Wehrle who helped oversee its construction. As Mother Superior, she was the administrator of all six convents that were spread throughout the Land of the Cross- Tipped Churches, and also supervised the Sisters who worked and taught in other states.
On May 5, 1887, Mother Kunigunda officiated at the separation of the priests and the sisters of the Precious Blood, with approval from Rome. The independent organization Female Society of the Precious Blood was legally incorporated, deeds of land were transferred, and debts cleared.
With Catholic priests to minister to the parishes, Sisters to teach the children, and Brothers who worked at the large productive acreages where there were many farm buildings at the convents and at the St. Charles Seminary, European immigrants, primarily German Catholics, sought fertile land for permanent settlements in the untamed wilderness.
In 1875 Father James Gartner brought holy relics from Rome to the convent of the Sisters of the Precious Blood at Maria Stein. A major addition was built for a Relic Chapel, Sisters Chapel and two-story residential building in 1892. On display in the Relic Chapel is the second largest Collection of Holy Relics in the United States. the two-story residential building has since been demolished. The main convent building, built just off of the chapels to the south, was finished in 1901 and housed Sisters for many years before it became the Shrine's museum, gift shop, and offices. The Administration of the Sisters moved from Maria Stein in 1923 when a new Motherhouse, named Salem Heights, was built north of Dayton, Ohio.
On Convent property in Marion Township of Mercer County, the Maria Stein Spiritual Center (Retreat House) was built in 1962, but was not included in the thematic nomination to the National Register of Historic Places because it was less than 50 years old.
In 1979 upon her retirement from teaching art in local schools, Sister M. Cordelia Gast began collecting artifacts for the Shrine’s Heritage Museum. At her death in 2002, she was considered an expert on the religious history of the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches. The Heritage Museum, located in the former Sisters’ Convent helps interpret the history of the concentrated Catholic settlement of the region for visitors to the shrine.
In 1999, the Gate House was taken down, and the brick buildings at the convent are no longer overnight residences for the Sisters, but are now used for meetings, a gift shop, prayer, and offices. The farm buildings included a large “Saxon-style barn, “a barn type traditionally found in Oldenburg in rural Northern Germany.”
As the number of sisters continued to decrease and those remaining began to age, they knew they would one day need to turn operations over to others. In 2016, after 170 years, Sisters of the Precious Blood officials turned over the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics to the laity. The Catholic nonprofit organization that assumed control is simply named the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics. The facility remains a place of peace, prayer and hospitality welcome to all.
Saint Charles Center
& Senior Living Community
2860 U.S. Route 127, Celina, Ohio 45822
Saint Charles Seminary/Center (1923/1950) Chapel (1906)
The present magnificent buff brick building constructed between1919 and 1923 was commissioned by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, and is the work of the renowned Catholic Church architectural firm Herman Gaul of Chicago, Illinois. With a commanding view west the St. Charles Center is now primarily residential with space for administration, archival collections, services, and meetings. This main building spanning 371 feet is situated in front of, and attached to an earlier red brick Renaissance Revival chapel designed in 1906 and built by the local DeCurtins Brothers.
The history of this property is complex and inspirational because the land in Marion Township was originally purchased by Connecticut teacher and abolitionist Augustus Wattles along with black and bi-racial families from the Cincinnati area. Wattles bought the first parcel of land of 197 acres in Marion Township of Mercer County. With his wife Susan Perley and other men and women teachers from Cincinnati, they helped establish homes, churches, businesses, and provided schooling for black and bi-racial children. In 1842, a grant from the Quaker-funded Samuel Emlen Institute in Pennsylvania provided for the construction of a two-story brick school for black and Indian boys. Wattles then established the Emlen Institute for the Benefit of free male orphan children of African and Indian descent, which was modeled after the Manual Labor School in Switzerland.
In 1844, Father Francis de Sales Brunner, religious leader of the Society of the Most Precious Blood from Switzerland moved from the Glandorf region of Ohio to Mercer County. He bought land east of the Carthagena community in the same Marion Township and in 1846, he founded the Maria Stein Convent, one of ten convents that he established in Ohio. It was the first of six convents built in the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches.
According to Reverend Ulrich F. Mueller, C. PP. S., Red, Black and White published c. 1935, “At But now other troubles were to harass these devoted people. The whites began to settle around them. At time, we are informed, complaints became loud that Carthagena gave shelter to refugees from justice This is quite like, if thereby meant deserting slaves who were guided by the underground railroad (as it later became known). The property with the Emlen Institute building at Carthagena was sold in 1857 for $4500, and the manual training institute was moved back to Pennsylvania.
The original parcel of 197 acres of land with the Emlen Institute building was sold to the Catholic order of the Society of the Most Precious Blood. The Saint Charles Borromeo Theological Seminary was established with Father Joseph Dwenger as the first rector. From 1861 until 1878, the Emlen Institute building, known as the Old Abbey, at Carthagena was used as the Precious Blood seminary until 1878 when a large red brick seminary building, was constructed on the same property.
Later, after the death of Anton DeCurtins, the free-standing red brick Chapel of the Assumption of Mary was designed and built by in 1906 by the DeCurtins Brothers. They were sons who were also local architects who lived in the two-story brick house that their father Anton De Curtins had built, and which still stands in Carthagena along Wuebler Pike, now State Route 274. The red brick ornate Romanesque Revival seminary chapel, was decorated during 1909-1911 by the German-born gifted artist and local priest, Paulinus Trost (1856-1939) with his oil paintings and dramatic ceiling murals of the life of Christ.
The chapel is now attached to the much larger 1923 seminary building designed by the well-known German-born Hermann Gaul architectural firm of Chicago, and built over a six-year period. The stately Renaissance Revival structure faces the General Anthony Wayne Parkway, now State Route 127. The St. Charles Seminary was built to house up to 120 seminarians at its peak. Farm buildings on the 500-acre property were constructed during the years to provide agricultural income that continues to support the Mission of the Society of the Precious Blood.
The main 1923 building was updated in 1950, adding two wings, making space for an auditorium and a convent. In addition, a printing operation and an infirmary for retired priests were added. The chapel was renovated in 1961, and by 1969 the seminary closed. Renamed the St. Charles Center, the building was remodeled and apartments became available for retired Precious Blood priests and local senior residents.
Saint Augustine Church
48 N. Hanover Street, Minster, Ohio 45865
Saint Augustine Church (1848/twin towers added 1874) school (1897)
The Catholic parish of St. Augustine at Stallostown, later named Minster, was one of three mother parishes. It was formally established in 1836 and ministered to by the French Missionary Father Louis Navarron in the region that became the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches. Land was bought for a church in 1837. In the decades after the removal of the Shawnee and Miami Indian nations from 1818-1832, German settlers began arriving and buying land in northwest Ohio.
The first Catholic Bishop, John Carroll of Baltimore, appointed Father Edward Fenwick, a Dominican priest born in Charles County, Maryland, to become the first Bishop of Cincinnati in 1821. Father Fenwick was put in charge of the nation’s eighth Catholic diocese to better serve the growing population of Catholic settlers, immigrants, and Native Americans in Ohio, Michigan, and parts of Wisconsin. Itinerant priests Father Friedrich Rese, Cincinnati’s first German Catholic priest; and Father Wilhelm Horstmann from Glandorf travelled from Cincinnati to say Mass on Sundays at the Stallostown Mission at Minster, and St. Michael the Archangel parish in Berlin, now Fort Loramie and other early frontier Catholic settlements in northern Ohio.
At Minster, a small rectangular brick church with a single spire and cross in the Greek Revival style was constructed in 1848 and served until 1874 when twin towers, soaring spires, and gold crosses were added to the west facing Hanover Street by Minster architect Anton Goehr. Located at a high point on the Miami & Erie Canal, the village of Minster drew German Catholic immigrants hungry for land when travel by water was available and affordable. In 1852, the Our Lady of Visitation Convent was built near the church in Minster. It was one of the six original convents of the Sisters of the Precious Blood, but it was demolished before the National Register nomination for the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches was entered in the United States Federal Register in July 1979. The St. Augustine Catholic Church complex also included an orphanage built after the cholera epidemic in 1849 and the St. Marys Institute, a girls’ boarding school; both demolished through the years.
Later the High Gothic design of the church was enhanced by eight black-faced tower clocks with gilded numerals installed in 1897, and in 1901 the church’s entrance was changed from the east side to the west side. Numerous interior additions begun in 1866 include the installation of a half-barrel ceiling adorned with seven murals by renowned Austrian-born painter Joseph Vittur of Chicago, Illinois; stained- glass windows; and a pipe organ. Another major update to the church took place from 1954-1963. Built near the church, the 1897 school in Renaissance Revival style was retrofitted in 2006 to become the Parish Center.
Immaculate Conception Rectory, School and Church
116 N. Mill Street, Botkins, Ohio
Immaculate Conception Church at Botkins Church (1961 replacement) Rectory (1877) School (1921 razed)
This Catholic parish, primarily of German immigrants, was organized from the Saints Peter and Paul mother church in the early 1860s in the small village of Botkins in Shelby County. Their first red brick church built with a tall steeple and gold cross was begun in June 1867, and cost $8,000. Ten years later in 1877, a two-story brick rectory was built in the Italianate style, and cost $3,000. Through the years, the church was remodeled and embellished by local painter F. H. Hefele, and stained-glass windows were added 1898-1899. The Catholic church complex, which also included a 1921 school and a convent/ in Botkins, is parallel to the north-south Dayton and Michigan Railroad on the west side of the Dixie Highway, later State Route 25, and presently Interstate 75. In 1961, the church was demolished and replaced, and the 1921 school was razed in 1979. The rectory and school were listed in the 1979 thematic National Register nomination of the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches, and now only the rectory remains.
Gruenwald Convent (Private Residence)
Cassella-Montezuma Road, Maria Stein Ohio 45860
Gruenwald/Greenwood Convent Gate House at Cassella (1854)
This three-bay, two-story red brick house, which still stands south of the unincorporated community of Cassella, was built in 1854 as part of the Convent of Mary, Mother of God founded in 1849 in west-central Ohio by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. It is one of six convents that provided lodging in Gate Houses for Priests, Sisters, and Brothers, religious members of the Society of the Precious Blood.
The Gate House at the Gruenwald Convent was a residence for priests who served parishes in the area before a ruling was enacted in 1905 by Archbishop Henry K. Moeller that a rectory should be provided for the priest in each parish. The Gruenwald convent complex closed in 1923, but remaining are a barn and the red brick Gate House from the Mary, Mother of God Convent in the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches.
Now a home for a local Catholic family, the Gate House has several rear additions, some original construction details, and an 1880 datestone that remains above the doorway on the west façade.
Holy Family Church
11255 OH-185 (Frenchtown) Versailles, OH 45380
Holy Family Church (1866) Rectories (1850) (1902)
The Holy Family Catholic parish founded in 1846 erected a rectangular brick church in 1866 in unincorporated Frenchtown (originally named La Champagne). It is the second- oldest Catholic church structure with original footprint on the same foundation in the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches.
French Catholics gathered in 1846 around unincorporated Frenchtown in Darke County and in the farmland around Russia (pronounced Roo-she) in Shelby County as each organized parishes and built log churches. The modest rectangular Holy Family brick church, built in 1866, was 65 feet x 35 feet, with Gothic arched side windows. The church had a short square tower, frame belfry, spire and cross, which was replaced after 1905 by a small frame open belfry with scalloped edges and a cross. The vestibule was added in 1964 to shelter the entrance on the east façade next to the cemetery. At the entrance to the cemetery are brick walls with a plaque and inscription in French Sainte Famille.
The first brick rectory, which still stands with its distinctive steeply pitched roof, was built in 1850 at Frenchtown for the priest. Now a restaurant, it is situated northeast from the Holy Family church and cemetery at the intersection of Burns Road and State Route 185. The second newer white frame rectory from1902 and the frame parish hall, built in 1926, are used for events by the parish.
Holy Trinity Church and Rectory
116 East Main Street, Coldwater, Ohio 45828
Holy Trinity Church (1899) Rectory (1901)
Located in the Village of Coldwater, platted in 1859, the parish dates to 1867 when three Catholic families sought permission from Archbishop John Baptist Purcell to form the Holy Trinity parish. They soon built a wood frame church. Land for the cemetery was located east of the village and dedicated to St. Elizabeth.
Due to increased income for the village from the timber industry and the arrival of the Lake Erie and Western railroad line, the parish prospered and proposed a new church in 1888. Architects DeCurtins & Co. were hired to draw up plans and the contract was signed to build the new brick structure for $17,000 with members of the parish responsible to construct the basement and foundation.
Tragedy struck soon after in 1898 when architect John DeCurtins was boarding the Lake Erie & Western train to return to Lima. He fell from the platform, suffered serious injuries, and died at age 37. His brothers, Frank and Andrew, assumed the contract. The present impressive Renaissance Revival design with Bedford stone trim has two towers, one of 85 feet and the other of 145 feet, both with spires and gold crosses.
Many interior improvements, including stained-glass windows in 1903, were made to the church as the village thrived. A rectory was built in 1905, and the two-story parochial school and Sisters Convent in 1913. A new convent for the Sisters that was built east of the rectory in 1967 now serves as the church office. Additions to the east and west sides of the massive church in 1969 created a Latin Cross footprint.
Immaculate Conception Church, Rectory and Schools
229 West Anthony Street, Celina, Ohio 45822
Immaculate Conception Church at Celina (1903), Rectory (1908) Schools 1918 & 1930
The Village of Celina was platted in 1834, and was installed as the Mercer County seat in 1839. Located on the western edge of Grand Lake St. Marys, the world's largest artificial body of water at that time, settlers had access to transportation and wages earned from the construction of the Miami & Erie Canal. Celina expanded, became the county seat, and the largest and only city in Mercer County.
Catholic immigrants established a parish in Celina about 1860 when Sunday Mass was first celebrated in a factory. The parish was formally organized in1864, the same year that the Archbishop of Cincinnati John Baptist Purcell laid the cornerstone for a red brick rectangular structure that cost $7,000. As the congregation grew, a new church was designed, and was dedicated in 1903 at a cost of $85,000. This magnificent early 20th century Romanesque Revival red brick church with central dome was designed by Andrew DeCurtins, the youngest of the talented sons of master architect Anton DeCurtins who had come from Switzerland to Mercer County, Ohio, about 1850.
Not only is the Immaculate Conception church considered one of the finest Catholic church buildings in northwestern Ohio with its central dome dominating the cityscape of Celina, but it also has interior decorations from 1866 that feature the artwork of celebrated Austrian-born painter Joseph Vittur of Chicago, Illinois.
A convent was built near the church in 1879 for the Sisters of the Precious Blood, but was replaced by a larger structure in 1949. The brick rectory was constructed for $10,000 in 1908 by the DeCurtins Brothers of Lima. Two brick schools, the elementary in 1918, and the three-story St. John’s High School in 1933 were designed by architect Fred DeCurtins, grandson of Anton DeCurtins. The high school closed in 1972, and now Celina has the only elementary parochial school in Mercer County.
Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church and Rectory
6524 State Route 119, Cassella, Ohio
Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church (1858) Rectory (1902)
This German Catholic parish (Maria Cappella in German) formed in 1847and built this red brick rectangular church in 1858 on State Route 119 in the settlement of Marysville, which was platted in 1860. The church burned in June 1888 sparing only the four brick walls. It was soon rebuilt at a cost of $16,000. In 1889 the damaged church was transformed into a High Gothic Revival style with the central entrance in a square tower designed by Anton DeCurtins. The reconstruction was blessed by Archbishop William Henry Elder, and the addition of this tower with soaring steeple with open louvered belfry and gold cross became a revolutionary transformation in the region’s rectangular Catholic Churches where their original designs had not included such large towers.
Other existing German Catholic churches were often modified by the addition of an ornate sturdy tower with tall steeple, belfry, and gold cross, and thus the area became known as the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches. Because the exterior walls of the church in the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish still showed signs of the fire, in 1915 the fire damage was hidden with a faux-stone application by traveling German craftsmen. In 1990 due to the shortage of priests in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the Blessed Virgin Mary parish in Cassella was combined with the neighboring parish with the elegant church at St. Rose, and one priest served both parishes. The rectory built in 1902 was converted into a parish center for meetings and religious education. Two township one-room district brick schools are located south of the church facing Cassella-Montezuma Road.
Precious Blood Rectory and School
35 South Maple Street, Chickasaw, Ohio, 45826
Precious Blood Rectory and School (1904)
Around the village of Chickasaw on State Route 274 in Marion Township of Mercer County, German Catholics gathering in the 1850s sought permission to form a parish, and Archbishop John Baptist Purcell approved a mission but no church. The parishioners attended Mass at nearby St. Sebastian until 1894 when the cornerstone for a small chapel was laid in Chickasaw. The parish at Chickasaw petitioned Archbishop Purcell again for their own parish and church. In January 1903, a fire destroyed the neighboring St. Sebastian Catholic Church, prompting each parish to yearn to have its own church.
A large church with four bays and domed tower was built and served the Chickasaw parish. The pastor was Father Paulinus Trost, C. PP S, who studied in Munich, Germany, and was a major contributor of religious art in many ecclesiastical buildings in the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches.
In 1967, the present modern stone-faced church was constructed by local builders and craftsmen.
The rectory built in an American Four-Square design with dormers on all four sides and an open front porch was built by the DeCurtins Brothers in 1904, as was the massive two-story red brick school with central tower that now is the meeting hall for the local Veterans of Foreign Wars. There were three similar red brick two-story schools built by the DeCurtins Brothers at the turn of the 20th century in the Land of the Cross- Tipped Churches, but the schools at St. Henry, Maria Stein, and St. Paul at Sharpsburg have all since been demolished.
6032 OH-274, (Carthagena) Celina, OH 45822
St. Aloysius Church (1878)
In Marion Township where the Village of Carthagena had been platted in 1840 by Charles Moore, more blacks arrived and bought additional parcels of farmland in western Mercer County in adjoining Granville, Butler and Franklin Townships. Once the Miami and Erie Canal had been completed in 1845, the trickle of German Catholics with Minster as a gateway became a flood, especially into the rich, flat land at the southern edge of the Great Black Swamp that covered several counties in northwest Ohio.
At first, Germans buying land and living near Carthagena went to Sunday Mass at the St. Charles Seminary or a neighboring parish in the early 1850s. After Swiss immigrant architect Anton DeCurtins and his family became residents of Carthagena, the DeCurtins family was engaged to construct the St. Aloysius Catholic Church, named for the patron saint of young students. A red brick Gothic Revival rectangular building was built with a prominent tower, white painted belfry, soaring spire, and gold cross, which cost $7,500. Local immigrant brick and stone masons from Holland, Peter VandenBosch, Sr. and George Van Oss, provided 400,000 bricks costing $1,372.30.
After the original construction of the church, interior improvements were carefully chosen. Important and rare are three stained glass windows, one with an image of Father Peter Claver, the patron saint of black slaves in Cartagena, Colombia; a second image of St. Isidor, Bishop of Cartagena, Spain; and a third of St. Perpetua, Mutter und Martyrin, 202 zu Carthage, Africa. (Mother and martyr, 202 from Carthage, Africa.) The stained-glass windows were added 25 years after the church had been completed when the pastor was scholar Reverend Gregory Yassel who left the parish and the country in 1906 after he was appointed a delegate to the Precious Blood chapter in Rome. .
Beginning in the 1970s, actions attributed to Vatican II resulted in the removal of altars, statues, and the communion railing, but the stained-glass windows remained. The St. Aloysius Catholic Church and cemetery are adjacent to the Carthagena Black Cemetery for blacks who had pioneered in the area in the 1830s, but now no descendants of the original settlers live in the county.
Saint Anthony Church, Rectory and School
471 St. Anthony Rd., (St. Anthony) Ft. Recovery, OH 45846
Saint Anthony Church (1879) Rectory (1906) School (1940)
The village of St. Anthony, originally called Padua, was settled in the 1830s by German Catholic and German Lutheran immigrants. St. Anthony of Padua Catholic parish was formed in 1852 under the direction of its first pastor Father Joseph Albrecht from the parish of St. Joseph at Victoria. A log church was replaced by a red brick Gothic Revival structure with central tower and spire in 1874 by architect Anton DeCurtins.
Many improvements followed after 1900, including frescoed walls and stained-glass windows that are typically donated by individual members of the parish, and later the restoration of side altars, statues, and the communion rail. During Vatican II, the communion rail was replaced, the elevated pulpit was removed, and the sanctuary and main altar were redesigned so the priest could face the parish at Mass.
A frame rectory was built in 1906, following the orders issued by Archbishop Henry K. Moeller in 1905 that a pastor should reside in the parish. The use of the rectory by the pastor at St. Anthony was discontinued in 1999. A two -tory brick school was constructed in 1940, with several additions, and is now used as a parish hall and performance theater.
Saint Bernard Church and Rectory 71 W. Main St., Burkettsville, Ohio 45310
St. Bernard Church (1924) Rectory (1924)
After the Cincinnati Northern railroad was extended to Gilbert’s Station from Celina, the Village of Burkettsville was platted in 1876 on the line between Darke and Mercer Counties. The parish was formed the same year and a frame gabled church with louvered tower, tall spire, and cross was built and named for St. Bernard.
In 1914 the parish raised $35,000 and made plans for a new church, but construction was delayed due to the beginning of World War I. In 1922, the parish moved forward to build an unusually handsome Italian Renaissance building of buff- colored brick, red tiled roof, and side windows with round stone arches. Three entrances on the gabled facade, and twin towers with open belfries support Italianate round capped domes, and gold crosses. The stained- glass windows from the Artistic Glass Company of Cincinnati were made by the DeTour Company of Detroit, Michigan. The architect was J.F. Sheblessy of Cincinnati.
A statue of St. Bernard, patron saint of the Alps, still oversees the village from a niche above the entrances. The red brick hip-roofed rectory was updated in 1924 with an open front porch.
Saint Francis Church and Rectory
1519 Cranberry Rd.(Cranberry Prairie) St Henry, OH 45883
St. Francis Seraph Church (1906) Rectory (1911)
A community of German Catholics at Cranberry Prairie in Granville Township of Mercer County is marked by the elaborate St. Francis Seraph Catholic Church, rectory and cemetery. Cranberry Prairie Bog, a swampy area in 1829 through which the Wabash River flowed and enriched the soil, was the home in the early days of legendary “Wild Bill” Simison in the prairie covered by thickets of wild cranberries.
Catholics formed a parish in 1858, and a rectangular brick building in the Greek Revival style was designed and built at this rural crossroads by Anton DeCurtins. It was dedicated by Archbishop John Baptist Purcell from Cincinnati in 1860. A two-story brick classical school building with an off-center square tower in the Italian Renaissance style that was designed by Andrew DeCurtins, was built in 1904 across the road and east of the church.
As the parish grew, a larger magnificent Romanesque Renaissance style church was designed by William P. Ginther of Akron, Ohio, with its off-center ornate tower, a tall steeple, globe, and gold cross built in 1906. The spacious rectory was constructed in 1911 at a cost of $7,000.
The Cranberry Prairie post office existed from 1854 to 1904, and Bertke's General Store, one of the last country stores in the region, served the rural residents until after World War II. The general store was demolished the same year as the school in 1972, but the school bell was salvaged by a local family and memorialized in front of the St. Francis Seraph.
Saint Henry Church
272 E. Main St Henry, OH 45883
Saint Henry Church (1897) Rectory (1902)
In the Village of St. Henry, platted in 1837, an early German Catholic parish was established in 1839, and they built a log church in 1840. It was replaced in 1855 by a Greek Revival red brick structure designed by Anton DeCurtins, and cost $7,000. I
The third church of High Gothic Revival design was begun in 1897 with plans costing $750 for the masterpiece by Adolphus Druiding of the architectural firm in Chicago, Illinois. The contract for construction went to J. R. DeCurtins & Co. of Carthagena for $28,300. The total was finalized at $45,535, with additional work on pews and altars to be supplemented by donated labor and material worth $30,000 by parish members.
One of the most elaborate Catholic churches in the area, dedicated to Henry IV, German Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, it was built in the shape of a Latin cross. Its most prominent exterior feature is a clock tower of 200 feet with gold globe and cross. Large rose windows illuminate the interior with its painted and frescoed walls. A major renovation project in 1970’s after Vatican II, removed everything in the interior down to the bare walls. These significant changes in the sanctuary, included the removal of statues, its original High Gothic altar installed by E. Hackner Altar Co. from LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and murals by Austrian-born artist Joseph Vittur from Chicago, Illinois. The statue of St. Henry on the exterior north façade above the central entrance is a masterpiece of Johann Herman Brockman, German ecclesiastical sculptor and craftsman of Cincinnati, Ohio.
The elaborate 14-room rectory was built in 1902 by B. F. Matthews of Lima, Ohio. The two-story handsome brick public school with four-story Italianate tower built west of the church in 1903 by Andrew DeCurtins, was enlarged through the years. After options for reuse were rejected in the 1980s, the school closed and the building was replaced in 1989 with a surface parking lot.
Saint John the Evangelist Church
Schemel and Van Buren Streets, Fryburg, Ohio
Saint John the Evangelist Church (1850) Parish Hall (1877)
In 1848 near the a former parish at Peterburg, which is now in Auglaize County, a smaller group of German families at Fryburg established a second separate Catholic parish St. John the Evangelist. In 1850 this parish constructed a small brick rectangular church that is the second oldest Catholic Church that retains its original footprint and much of its original appearance in the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches and in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
The interior frescoes featuring four angels with blond hair were added near the ceiling during the 1949-1950 redecoration by parish priest Father Lawrence Tebbe (1901-1972). During this period, the parish and their priest also oversaw the construction of the nearby rectory, an unusual residence made of part brick, part stone, part house, and part Lourdes Grotto. A two-story brick school built in 1877 was connected to the church in 2019 and continues to serve as the Parish Hall.
Saint John the Baptist Church
8533 State Route 119, Maria Stein, Ohio
St. John the Baptist Church at Maria Stein (1891) Rectory (1906)
School (1933, demolished 1991)
The parish was founded in 1833 primarily by immigrants from Oldenburg, Germany. The village of St. John, platted in 1838, was later named Maria Stein. The present, red brick elaborate Neo-Romanesque church with massive tower, spire, and gold cross was completed in 1891 at a total cost of $40,145.
One of the most elegant ecclesiastical structures in the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches, the church was the design of Adolphus Druiding of Chicago, Illinois. The local contractor was Swiss immigrant Anton DeCurtins (1829-1895), the father of the local DeCurtins architectural family who lived in Carthagena in Mercer County during the last half of the 19th century.
The tower was designed to have clocks on all four sides, but none was installed. The ornate interior has deep cobalt blue stained-glass windows in the sanctuary. The dedication of the church was in 1891. Priests and Sisters of the Precious Blood lived at the Gate House at the nearby Maria Stein Convent until 1906 when the red brick rectory designed by the DeCurtins Brothers was constructed east of the church.
In the 1960s, the church was renovated, and most of its decorative exterior trim was removed, but the interior was spared. The three-story brick St. John’s High School was designed in 1933 by grandson F. A (Fred) DeCurtins and built across State Route 119 and south of the church, but the school was demolished after 1991 and replaced by a parking lot.
Saint Joseph Church
2441 OH-364, (Egypt) Minster, OH 45865
Saint Joseph Church at Egypt (1887) Rectory (1905)
The St Joseph parish in Egypt in Auglaize County was organized in 1852 along with the Convent of Mary’s Flight into Egypt five miles west of Minster. The present brick church was under the guidance of Reverend John Van den Broeck of Netherland ancestry. He died at Egypt and was buried in the local cemetery.
The church was designed in the Gothic Revival style by local Minster architect Anton Goehr and erected in 1887 at a cost of $5,000. Due to a windstorm that destroyed the tower and spire in 1927, the church now features a shorter tower with a church entrance in the Spanish Mission Revival style with domed belfry that was designed by Freytag Architects of Sidney. Both the parish cemetery and a spacious red brick rectory built in 1912, which is now a residence for a local Catholic family, lie north of the church and cemetery at the intersection.
Saint Joseph Church
1689 St. Joe Road (St. Joe) Fort Recovery, OH 4594653
Saint Joseph Church at Victoria (1861) Rectory (1906)
The St. Joseph parish in the small hamlet of Victoria on the west side of Mercer County was founded in 1839 predominantly by German immigrants from the Archduchy of Baden. It is one of three mother churches of the Catholic parishes listed in 1979 in the thematic nomination to the National Register of Historic Places in the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches. A blockhouse church was blessed by the French priest Father Louis Navarron in 1845.
The St. Joseph parish built a larger red brick High Gothic church in 1902. It was redecorated in 1999. Some of the original paintings were restored and other decorative painting was added to match designs found in old photographs. An outstanding interior feature that has been preserved by the parish is a white painted pulpit with carved images of the four evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Stained-glass windows depicting the life of St. Joseph were installed in 1920, and the brick rectory was constructed in 1906.
Saint Joseph Church
101 Pearl Street, Wapakoneta, OH 45895
Saint Joseph Catholic Church (1911) Rectory (1899) School (1899)
The German Catholics in Wapakoneta formed this parish dedicated to St. Joseph in 1839. They were served during the 1830s by Father Johann Wilhelm Horstmann who traveled forty miles south to say Sunday Mass in 1837 at St. Augustine in Stallostown, now Minster; and at St. Michael the Archangel in the German Village of Berlin, later named Fort Loramie. German-speaking Father Horstmann left an enormous void for German Catholics in west-central Ohio when he died in 1843.
The St. Joseph parish in Wapakoneta constructed two smaller churches, one of frame in 1839, and the second of brick in 1858. The present church was designed and constructed in 1911 by Andrew DeCurtins, the youngest son of the Swiss architect J. A. (Anton) DeCurtins (1820-1895). John and Joseph Hemmert from the parish were also listed as architects. The red brick rectory at St. Joseph, constructed in 1899, was expanded in 1922, and later converted into a convent.
Both St. Joseph Church and School were built in the Romanesque Revival style and are considered among the most architecturally prominent Catholic churches and schools in the thematic grouping of the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches. The Village of Wapakoneta on the Auglaize River and the Village of St. Marys further west on the St. Marys River grew rapidly, and are the only two cities in Auglaize County. Wapakoneta was installed as the county seat of newly established Auglaize County was created in 1848 from sections taken from adjacent Allen, Logan, Darke, Shelby, Mercer, and Van Wert Counties.
Saint Louis Church
15 E Star Rd, (North Star) Rossburg, OH 45362
Saint Louis Church (1914) Rectory (1914)
The French Catholic St. Louis parish, named for the Kings of France, had been established in 1892 in unincorporated Delvin in northeast Darke County. The parish, moved into the Village of North Star in 1910.
This village had been platted in1852, along the military route of General Anthony Wayne, State Route 127, that now links Greenville in Darke County north to Celina in Mercer County.
In 1914, the parish built a rectangular church of stucco painted white with five round arched windows on each side, a central doorway in the facade and an off-center square tower. The design of the church, drawn by Andrew DeCurtins of Lima, was based on the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church at Tipp City, Ohio. Many of its elements reflect a culturally different immigrant architectural preference unlike the red brick Gothic Revival churches favored in vast numbers by German immigrants in the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches.
A functional and sensitive addition to the church in 2000-2001 on the east side created a space for gatherings after Mass and funerals. The large red brick rectory that features a stone cross in the gable of the main facade was also built in 1914.
Saint Marys Church
3821 Philothea Road (Philothea) Coldwater OH 45828
Saint Marys Church at Philothea (1871) Rectory (1905) (Sold and moved to become a private residence east of the church on the south side of Philothea Road.
The Philothea (God-loving in Greek) parish was founded in 1851 and a log church was erected in 1853. In 1857 when Reverend John Von den Broeck came to minister to the small Catholic parish, he reported that “he baptized 43 persons, practically all of whom were Negroes from the nearby Carthagena settlement.” Reverend Ulrich F. Mueller wrote in the Souvenir of the Golden Jubilee of the Dedication of St. Aloysius Church Carthagena, Ohio,1878-1928
The present red brick rectangular church was dedicated in the unincorporated village of Philothea in 1871. A teacher's house was built in 1886, and a rectory constructed in 1905 cost $4,500. This church represents a transitional design with characteristics of an early Greek Revival base and Romanesque Revival tower added in 1923. On the ceiling is a painting of Our Lady, Queen of the Rosary by the Reverend Paulinus Trost, a noted artist and member of the Society of the Precious Blood Society. During the 1923 remodeling, the exterior of the church was faced with buff brick, and a new tower entrance was added with a large steeple and gold cross.
In 1943 to honor the servicemen of the parish a grotto was built with large rocks and boulders gathered by church members. Another ambitious repair and renovation project was completed in 2013 primarily by the parish's skilled craftsmen and included repainting repairing all the statues, repainting the entire church and removing and refinishing all of the pews.
Saint Michael the Archangel Church 33 Elm St, Fort Loramie, OH 45845
Saint Michael the Archangel Church (1881) Rectory (1897) School (1890s) demolished in 2009
St. Michael the Archangel parish was established in 1838 in the German community of Berlin, now Fort Loramie. Named for French-born Pierre Loramie, the French-Canadian trader came to the Ohio Country in 1769 and established a trading post a mile north of today’s Village of Fort Loramie. St.Michael and the Catholic parish at Stallostown (Minster) are located on the flat summit of the Miami & Erie Canal that connects the Ohio River at Cincinnati to Lake Erie and Canada in the north.
The first Mass at St. Michael the Archangel was said by the French priest Father Louis Navarron in the storeroom of the home of French-born James M. Pilliod. At this time, Father Navarron also served parishes in Frenchtown, Russia, Minster, Maria Stein, Celina, and St. Marys.
In 1851 several years after a cholera epidemic had subsided, the parish built a rectangular brick church, 30 feet x 60 feet, with steeple and cross designed by Minster architect Anton Goehr. At this time, the first resident priest was sent to live in the parish.
In 1873, Cincinnati Archbishop John Baptist Purcell assigned to St. Michael's parish the accomplished priest, university professor, and writer Reverend William Bigot, born in Alsace, France. Under his leadership, a magnificent Tuscan-Gothic church with central tower, tall ornamental steeple and gold cross was designed by the architectural firm Cuddell and Richardson of Cleveland, Ohio. Anton Goehr was in charge of the construction, which was completed in 1881 at a cost of $40,000. Reverend Bigot approved the installation of statues Saint Martin, Saint Michael (in the center), and Saint Maurice at the second level of the main south entrance.
A truly wise decision was made to preserve and attach the 1851 brick chapel to the 1881 church. Other buildings listed in the St. Michael Church complex are a 19th century one-room township school used for meetings, and an elaborate Victorian red brick rectory completed in 1897. Also listed in the nomination to the National Register of Historic Places was the 1890s High Victorian School, but it was demolished and replaced with a new elementary school in 2009.
Saint Nicholas Church
128 Church St, Osgood, OH 45351
Saint Nicholas Church (1908) Rectory (1914)
St. Nicholas parish, formed in 1904 from St. Michael's Church in Fort Loramie, is one of the newest in the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches. This rectangular 1908 red brick church in the Gothic Revival style is located on State Route 705 in the Village of Osgood in Darke County.
The building was constructed at a cost of $22,000 with corbelling at the eaves, gables at the roofline on each side, and topped by a single octagonal tower, spire, and gold cross. While the interior has retained original details, a vestibule was added at the entrance on the south facade in the 1970s. The red brick rectory was built east of the church in 1914.
Saint Patrick Church
Intersection of Hoying and Wright-Puthoff Roads
Saint Patrick Church at Saint Patrick (1915) demolished, Rectory (1919)
This Irish Catholic parish was organized in 1862 in the unincorporated hamlet of St. Patrick in rural Shelby County by immigrants who had helped build the Miami & Erie Canal at Minster in Mercer County.
It is the second of three Irish Catholic parishes in the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches. The other two are St. Thomas/St. Patrick in Glynwood in Auglaize County and Sacred Heart of Jesus in McCartyville in Shelby County.
St. Patrick's first church of log was replaced in 1871 by a frame church, and then in 1915, a small brick church with Spanish Mission Revival features was constructed. Soon after in 1919, a red brick rectory with open front porch was constructed adjacent to the church, and a parish school operated until 1954. Both the church and the rectory were included in the thematic listing in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. However, the picturesque church closed in 1994, was demolished in 2001, and the parish was disbanded. Now a gabled brick memorial with a life-sized statue of St. Patrick marks the site of the parish’s last church.
Saint Patrick Church
6959 Glynwood Rd, St Marys, OH 45885
Saint Patrick Church at Glynwood (1883) Rectory (1920s)
The St. Thomas Catholic parish, founded in 1857 in Auglaize County between Wapakoneta and St. Marys, constructed a log church and platted a cemetery at the Six-Mile Depot for the Lake Erie and Western Railroad. It was the first of three Irish Catholic settlements. The other two in the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches are St. Patrick and Sacred Heart of Jesus, both in Shelby County. A frame church was replaced at Glynnwood after the cornerstone for the present red brick church in the community was laid in 1883. The Gothic Revival style church designed by Anton DeCurtins, Swiss master architect and resident of Carthagena in Mercer County, Ohio. It has a central tower and a soaring spire topped by a gold cross. The interior has elaborate decoration, original wood altar, and early statues. In the same year, the parish was rededicated to Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, but the cemetery retained its former name St. Thomas. A red brick rectory in the Craftsman style was constructed in the 1920s.
The parish of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Glynwood was joined in 2014 with the pre-Civil War parish of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in historic St. Marys to form a parish cluster with one priest serving both churches.
Saint Paul Church
517 Meiring Rd, Fort Recovery, OH 45846
Saint Paul Church at Sharpsburg (1888) Rectory 1905) School (1906 demolished)
The parish was established in 1868 in the small hamlet of Sharpsburg, platted as Zenz City in 1908. Located five miles southeast of the Village of Fort Recovery their first wood church was struck by lightning and completely destroyed by fire in 1886. It was replaced two years later when the present Gothic Revival brick church with square brick tower, steep spire and gold cross was designed and constructed by Anton DeCurtins of Carthagena.
The interior was frescoed in 1902, and stained-glass windows depicting the life of St. Paul, the great Apostle, were installed in 1916. The brick rectory was erected about 1905. Significant renovations to the church including a vestibule added to the facade were completed in the 1970s. A two-story brick school, designed by the DeCurtins Brothers was built west of the church and rectory in 1906. With several additions, the school eventually had eight classrooms, but it was demolished in 2000.
Saint Peter Church
3512 St Peter Rd, Fort Recovery, OH 45846
Saint Peter Church (1860/1904) Rectory (1912)
A newly formed parish of St. Peter was approved in 1858 by Archbishop Purcell in Recovery Township in northwest Mercer County. It was first attached to Mary's Home (Mariensheim) Convent and the Church of the Most Holy Trinity on State Route 67 at Trinity, Indiana.
At St. Peter, a small red brick rectangular church in the Greek Revival style designed by Anton DeCurtins was constructed about four miles northeast of Fort Recovery. The first mass was celebrated in 1860.The interior has richly hued stained-glass windows produced by the firm of DeTour Co. of Detroit, Michigan.
The original tall slender steeple from 1904 was rebuilt 40 feet lower in 1968, but the spire still has a gold cross. The rectory was built in 1912.
By 1984, St. Peter and St. Joseph parishes shared a priest, and St. Anthony parish joined in 1999 with only one priest for all three parishes. In 2004 the parish became part of the Fort Recovery Cluster that also includes the churches of St. Joseph in Victoria, St Paul in Sharpsburg, and the Mary Help of Christians in Fort Recovery.
Saint Remy Church
108 E Main St, Russia, OH 45363
Saint Remy Church (1890)
French Catholic immigrants began arriving in the 1820s in Darke County. In 1840, the Bishop of Cincinnati John Baptist Purcell put French-born Father Louis Navarron (1807-1882) in charge of Catholic parishes in Mercer and Auglaize Counties where German and French immigrants were settling. In1846 two more French parishes and churches were established: Holy Family parish at Frenchtown, (originally named Champaign) and St. Remy at Russia (pronounced Roo-she).
St. Remy's present modest brick church was built in 1890 by architect Joseph Altenbach of Sidney, and has an offset Gothic Revival tower with steeple and gold cross. The church was remodeled in 1954 when a vestibule was added to the front facade obscuring the original entry.
The interior of the church with original reredos (screens behind the altar), statues, and communion rail was remodeled in the 1970s after directives of Vatican II, but many similar decorative features were replaced though the efforts of the parish during the last decade.
The influence of Father Louis Navarron, sent by Bishop John Baptist Purcell to northern Darke and Shelby Counties in the 1840, was felt past the turn of the 20th century. Later daughter parishes with a majority of French settlers were St. Denis (1875) in Versailles and St. Louis (1914) in North Star, both in Darke County. Parishes were formed In Shelby County, St. Nicholas (1908) in Osgood, and at Sts. Peter and Paul (1881) in Newport.
Saint Rose Church
7428 State Rt 119, (St. Rose) Maria Stein, OH 45860
Saint Rose Church (1911) Rectory (1906) School (1892)
St. Rose parish was founded in 1839 in an unincorporated settlement named Rose Garden by Bishop John Baptist Purcell. It was one of the early German Catholic parishes established in Mercer County.
At first, the parish built a log church under the direction of Father Louis Navarron from Clermont, France; then the parish was transferred after 1844 to Father Francis de Sales Brunner and members of the Society of the Precious Blood C. PP. S. This Catholic order originating in Switzerland had an enormous impact in creating the region that became known as the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches.
A red brick church with frame belfry in the Greek Revival style designed by local architect Anton DeCurtins was dedicated in 1852. Improvements and additions were made as the parish grew.
In 1913, elaborate plans by architect Andrew DeCurtins, of Lima, Ohio, were accepted for a new church. Andrew was the youngest son of Anton DeCurtins, Swiss architect who had built the brick house for his family just five miles west at Carthagena.
The present High Gothic Revival brick church with soaring octagonal tower, louvered belfry and gold cross was built in the shape of a Latin cross with three doorways on the north facade. The interior has white altars, reredos (wooden screens behind the altar), and painted statues.
Before the red brick rectory was completed in 1906, the pastors of the local Catholic parishes had lived at nearby Gruenwald Convent or at the Maria Stein Convent until 1905, the year that Bishop Henry K. Moeller ruled that a rectory should be built near the church so a pastor could live in his parish. A one-room brick district school house built in 1892 east of the church still serves the parish.
Saint Sebastian Church
3280 Co Rd 716A, (St. Sebastian) Celina, OH 45822
Saint Sebastian Church (1903) Rectory (1905)
St. Sebastian Catholic parish was established in March 1852 when Archbishop John Baptist Purcell gave permission for the first frame church, built under the direction of Richard R. Carothers, an African-American master carpenter. Born in Virginia, Carothers lived with his family in near-by Carthagena. In June 1853 a group of parishioners from St. Rose proceeded northward to the new church that cost $1,000. By 1879 as the parish grew, a new church was designed and constructed by Anton DeCurtins to replace the frame one, and in 1894 it was enlarged by the same prolific local architect who died the next year in 1895.
As the St. Sebastian parish was preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary their brick church was totally destroyed by fire in January 1903. Bitter controversy continued with the Precious Blood parish in Chickasaw, which was only two miles away, over which parish would get approval from the bishop to have the church in their parish.
St. Sebastian quickly contracted with the DeCurtins Brothers of Lima to build the present High Gothic church at a cost of $16,510. It was dedicated by Cincinnati Auxiliary Bishop Henry K. Moeller in September 1904. Andrew Carnegie of Pittsburgh donated almost half of the $2,500 cost for the pipe organ. Other improvements, renovations, and additions kept the church well-maintained.
The two-story brick rectory was built for the pastor in 1905. In 1991, the parishes of St. Sebastian and Precious Blood were combined under one priest, and in 2004 they became part of the Five-Parish Marion Catholic Community Cluster.
Saint Wendelin Church
2997 Fort Recovery-Minster Rd, St Henry, OH 45883
Saint Wendelin Church (1870) (Rectory 1905)
The St. Wendelin parish west of St. Henry was formed in 1856 from the early St. Joseph parish at Victoria. The present brick rectangular church with corbelling at the eaves located on the Minster-Fort Recovery Road was designed by Minster architect Anton Goehr.
The brick was clad with faux stone when a Gothic Revival brick tower with wood belfry, soaring spire and gold cross was added in1870. The funding for the stained-glass windows from Artistic Glass Co. of Cincinnati was donated by individuals or families of the parish, as was often the custom in this Catholic area. The brick rectory was built in 1905. St. Wendelin is traditionally the patron saint of farmers and herdsmen.