This is a fascinatingly designed Church building located in the 3800 block of Hueco, between Lamar and Travis, in El Paso. It was built in two stages; the east wing of the extant building was erected in 1923 as the Chapel for the relatively new St. Joseph’s Church Parish; then the tower and the west wing were erected in 1938 to expand the building into classrooms, a rectory, and offices. We can find no primary documentation identifying an architect for the 1923 east wing, however there is documentation that the tower and west wing was designed by Trost & Trost.
The St. Joseph School’s website has a History page that states the 1923 east wing was designed by Trost & Trost , however they lack and we cannot find documentation that this is the case. It is possible that the author of the web article may have confused the St. Joseph’s School that was on El Paso Street at the time, which was a Trost & Trost design, with this chapel. The possibility that Trost designed the east wing is real, but presently unsubstantiated.
In 1916, devout Catholics in the Government Hill area discovered that transportation to and from Church was very difficult. There was no Church in their area, and public transportation was lacking. 20 families that lived in the area petitioned the Rt. Rev. Bishop to establish a chapel of their own in the district. The Bishop, A.J. Schuler, graciously encouraged them and promised a Chapel.
After approximately 30 days, the site on Hueco between Travis and Lamar was chosen, and the Church purchased 16 lots (the entire block). They erected a small chapel on the northeast corner of Travis and Hueco for $3,000, and the St. Joseph’s Parish was born – with their initial dedication and Mass on Christmas Day, 1916. In April 1918, the Rev. H.J. Swift S.J. was appointed Pastor, considered the first rector of St. Joseph’s Church. The small chapel built at that time is now part of the parking lot.
The 1923 Chapel was built on the northwest corner of Hueco and Lamar to accommodate a rapidly growing church. This chapel, with its central entryway, is extant as the east wing of the building we are featuring. In 1938, with continued Church growth, the building was expanded to the west down Hueco with the addition of the Trost & Trost designed tower and school/administration building, which included the rectory.
The building is an imposing Gothic, with the Trost wing featuring some alluring Art Deco enhancements. The structure is commanding and beautiful. St. Joseph’s still owns the entire block, and the building is in use as their school. It is well maintained and appears to be in wonderful condition.
Photographs taken by Mark Stone in 2020
— Mark Stone
Construction Date: Jan 1, 1939
Address: 3829 Hueco Avenue, El Paso, TX, USA