St. Joseph Church, photographed here in the 1930s, was home to the Catholic settlers in Kronenberg, at the foot of Powell Butte, then called Camp Butte. The town was named for Joseph Kronenberg, who was the town’s first and only postmaster. (Sentinel Archives)
St. Joseph Church, photographed here in the 1930s, was home to the Catholic settlers in Kronenberg, at the foot of Powell Butte, then called Camp Butte. The town was named for Joseph Kronenberg, who was the town’s first and only postmaster. (Sentinel Archives)

Three vibrant archdiocesan parishes and two missions are named for St. Joseph — they include one of the two largest parishes in the archdiocese (St. Joseph Parish in Salem) and a mission that is one of the oldest churches of any denomination in Oregon (St. Joseph Mission in Jacksonville, built in 1858).

There are, however, two more St. Joseph parishes, closed but not forgotten.

KRONENBERG

In the 1800s, a priest would ride a donkey the 10 miles east from Portland to celebrate Mass, then traveling on to do the same at St. Henry in Gresham.

Tiny St. Joseph Church was built in 1886 in Kronenberg, a settlement at the foot of Camp Butte, now Powell Butte. The area long ago became part of Portland, but in those early days there were cattle, farms and orchards. The church, at what is now Southeast 166th and Powell Boulevard, boasted stained glass windows and a pot-belly stove that warmed worshippers.

After World War II, in the mid-1950s the church grew from 700 families to 1,400. It was divided into three parishes: St. Therese, St. Joseph the Worker and St. Anne. The old Kronenberg church was moved to 182nd Avenue and became St. Anne.

NORTHWEST PORTLAND

St. Joseph Church was dedicated in 1887 on the corner of “C and Fourteenth … [by] the gulch known as Tanner’s creek.”

Archbishop William Gross, speaking at the ceremony, noted the St. Joseph German Catholic Society of Portland had worked 15 years to bring the day about. In dedicating the church, he urged listeners not to forget St. Joseph, patron of the family and model for all fathers. “In this age when the family, which was the foundation of the social structure, [is] being undermined by divorce and its consequences, when God was banished from the schools where children were educated, they need the light of the example of St. Joseph.” Both German and American flags fluttered from the church’s tower.

In the 1950s, the parish welcomed Hungarian, Cuban and Mexican immigrants, and sermons were in Spanish and Hungarian in addition to English and German. There was also an active St. Vincent de Paul conference.

On Aug. 22, 1963, the Catholic Sentinel reported the Oregon Highway Department had purchased the property, which would be razed for the construction of the new Stadium Freeway, now known as I-405.

Today the site, now 15th Avenue and Couch Street, bears no witness to the forgotten church.