St. Joseph’s Historic Church will be open to the public for the first time in over a year on Saturday, May 22, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Located in eastern Geary County, the native limestone church is a local landmark in the McDowell Creek neighborhood. Stop by between 10 and 1 to explore the building, hear about our work to restore it, learn about the history of the church and cemetery, and enjoy some refreshments.

St. Joseph’s is located off I-70 exit 307 for McDowell Creek Road. Drive south along the gravel road for 1.5 miles and look for the church on your left.

Geary County Historical Society and the McDowell Creek community are currently working to restore historic “St. Joe’s,” as we affectionately call it. St. Joseph’s Historic Church dates from 1910, when the beautiful stone building was rebuilt on the foundation of an earlier 1872 church. Located in the McDowell Creek community, the church and cemetery reflect generations of history. Families like the Brannicks, Ryans, and Tullys settled in Kansas in the 1850s; with roots in Ireland, they formed a close-knit community and built St. Joseph’s.

The church was active until the 1980s when it was decommissioned. The windows were removed and the roof and floors fell into disrepair. Geary County Historical Society acquired the church in 2008 and replaced the roof in 2012, and new windows installed in 2019 and 2020 have brought natural light and fresh air to the building once again.

Now, the Friends of St. Joseph’s Church and the Geary County Historical Society are raising money to complete the restoration of the church for use as a community center and public venue, where people can gather, listen to live music, learn about history, and hold other events. Our long-term goals are to repair the church tower and roof, provide power to the building, repair and refinish the wood floors, and restore the choir loft.

If you have any questions about the open house on May 22 or the St. Joseph’s restoration project, please contact the museum at 785-238-1666, or gearyhistory@gmail.com

KATIE GOERL is the Executive Director of the Geary County Historical Society in Junction City.

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