In 1874 with the I.G.N.R.R. coming to Palestine, there was a great need for a Catholic church. The church was built and named after St. Joseph, the patron saint of the working men.
In 1890, St. Jospeh's was destroyed by fire and the present building was started. It was completed and dedicated on June 18th, 1893 and named Sacred Heart.
The Architect was Nicholas J. Clayton, who is also known for the Bishop's Palace in Galveston, TX. 675,000 bricks were molded by hand and baked on the site from mud brought by wagon from the Trinity River. The building has plastered interior walls, varnished oak, knotty pine and is of Victorian Gothic Style. The Stations of the Cross were hung between 1901 and 1915. The stained glass windows are from Italy and France. The church seats 500 comfortably and a maximum of 1,000.
On April 25, 1926 a new Pilcher pipe organ replaced the old reed organ at the cost of 5,000. This organ is still used today for special occasions.
The stained glass windows from left to right, facing the alter are: St. Rose of Lima, Peru; St. Anne with the child Mary, St. Joseph with the child Jesus, the Ascension of Christ, Our Lady of Sorrows, (behind the alter) St. Dominic, St. Frncis, St. Luke, St. John, St. Margaraet-Mary, The Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Mathew, St. Mark, St. Paul and St. Peter, The Crucifixion of Christ, The Assumption of Mary into Heaven, St. John the Evangelist, St. Paul of Taurus, and Mary Quenn of Heaven.
The stained glass windows in the choir loft are (left to right) St. Cosmos, St. Damien, St. Cecelia, St. Joan of Arc, and St. Patrick.
The mural "The Transfiguration of Christ" was printed in the 1920's and retouched in 1946. In 1935, the original wooden altar which had been in use since 1880 was replaced with a marble altar. The two wooden side altars were also replaced with ones made of marble.
Sacred Heart Catholic Church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and is one of five churches with this type of architecture remaining in the State of Texas.
From the pages of texashistory.unt.edu
The interior of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Palestine altar area is surrounded by decorative windows and a religious mural. This church is the successor to 1874 church of St. Joseph, built on site given by International and Great Northern Railway, and destroyed by fire in 1890. This building of handmade brick was begun later that year; Nicholas J. Clayton of Galveston was the Architect. The history of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church began in 1872, when Father Louis Granger came to Palestine. Father Granger traveled by horseback to say Mass in the Masonic Hall on Rusk Road (now Lacy Street) and then on to Huntsville to say Mass at the State Penitentary. In 1873, the International and Great Northern Railroad gave a site at the corner of Oak and Queen Streets, Lot No. 9 and 10 were deeded to His Excellency, Bishop Dubuis. The original church, 13x60’ in size, was named St. Joseph’s and was completed in 1873. Palestine’s local fire department was hosting the state’s firemen’s convention n 1890 when the wooden church building burned to the ground. Father Badelon was the first resident, coming in 1874 and serving until 1878. While here he bough the adjoining lot for $1.00 and in 1874 brought the first teaching sisters, the Sisters of St. Agnes, who opened a school on Lacy and North Jackson Streets. Father Chaland came in 1878 and remained until 1899. During this time the Sisters of Divine Province replaced the Sisters of St. Agnes in the school. Land was purchased in 1884 for St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery. In 1886, at the request of the railroad, Father Chaland brought the Sisters of Charity of Incarnate Word to conduct the railroad hospital. In 1899, Father C.M. Thion came as pastor replacing Father Chaland. When the church burned, services were held in the Chapel of St. Mary’s Academy until a new church could be built. The cornerstone of the new church was laid in 1890 and dedicated to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Father Thion built a two room rectory behind the church, and in March 1900, the lot to the side of the church was purchased for $600.00. The following year, 1901, the land was purchased where the present rectory is today. Father Bernard Lee came in 1901 and served for 15 years. During his pastorate in 1902 the Altar Society was organized, in 1903 the Queen’s Daughters were organized and in 1908, the Knights of Columbus instituted a council in Palestine. Father George Wilhelm came in December 1915 and during his pastorate the present rectory was built. In 1918, the Sisters of Charity of Incarnate Word discontinued their work at the railroad hospital. In November 1920, Father R.C. Frei came to Palestine and stayed until 1926, being replaced by Father J.J. Kearn. In 1931, Father Kearn organized the Holy Name Society. In 1932 Father J.T. Moriarty succeeded Father Kearns and during his pastorate the St. Joan of Arc Society was established. The beautiful new marble altar was installed in 1932, a gift of Mrs. Georgiana Von Donner. When Father Moriarty became ill, Father J.M. Cody came to substitute and was made administrator of the Parish on March 8, 1946. Msgr. J.T. Fleming was the next pastor and during his service, the fresco of the Transfiguration over the main altar was restored. Father E.J. Brumleu came in 1957, then Father Leo Wleczyk in 1975. Rev. Harold Paulsen was pastor from 1975 to 1996. Then it being Msgr. ZAch being pastor for 19 yrs. The present Administrator is Fr. Mathias