Historic Markers Across Florida

St. Joseph Catholic Church

Marker ID: FLHM F-697
Location: 140 West Government Street, Pensacola, FL
County: Escambia
Coordinates: N 30° 24.53    W 087° 13.061
  30.40883333    -87.21768333
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMKJA4


The Sisters of Mercy began the Catholic Church's work for blacks in Pensacola when they opened St. Joseph Colored and Creole School on September 8, 1879. St. Joseph Catholic Church, built in 1891, was the 1st African-American parish in the Diocese of Mobile. The first Church was a two-story frame building. The present Gothic revival style church, built in 1894, cared for the needs of African-Americans, Creoles, Germans, Italians, and Irish immigrants. In the 1920's, Fr. Charles Hartkoff, the church's second pastor, built and opened St. Joseph orphanage which took in homeless African-American boys. In 1939, Fr. Joseph J. Raleigh closed and reopened one school operated by the Sisters of Charity of Convent Station, New Jersey. Two years later, St. Joseph High School opened, the only Catholic African-American high school in the state of Florida at the time. At its height, St. Joseph's operated "Maryall Negro Missions" which included four chapels: Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Victory, Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of Africa. Other ministries included Our Lady of Fatima Mission School and Our Lady of Angels Maternity Hospital for African-American women located beside the Church's grammar and high school.

Erected 2010 by the Knights of Peter Claver Council 233 & the Florida Department of State.