A History of St. Joseph Parish
In the summer of 1924 at a priest retreat, Bishop Thomas Drumm announced the formation of a new parish to serve the eastern area of Des Moines, Iowa, and parts of northern Polk County. The new parish, named after St. Joseph, was actually a daughter parish born to serve the families and neighborhoods of Visitation and St. Peter’s parishes. Fr. Francis P. Larkin was appointed as the first pastor.
The 1920s were a time that contrasted prosperity with poverty, and freedom against intolerance. The story goes that Fr. Larkin removed his priest’s collar and put on bib overalls to buy three lots at the corner of East 33rd Street and Easton Boulevard, across from Grandview Park. When the news of the purchase became public, anti-Catholic sentiment showed up near the present site of St. Joseph as fiery crosses burned with an ugly intent. The price of the property was almost $11,000 and included a barn, some sheds, and the Civil War era house that was to become the rectory.