Architecture & Grounds – St. Joseph Church, Tobias, NE

The historic steeple of the white frame church, with a gold cross on top, is visible above the treetops for miles around the small village of Tobias.

This familiar scene can be encountered across the prairies of Nebraska where a tall steeple situated in the country or within a small town beckons the faithful to a place of sustenance. Pointed-arch window openings and the rectangular layout remind of its Gothic-Revival design so popular with many rural churches constructed in the parts of the decades surrounding 1900.

The west-facing double-door entrance is situated below a semicircular arch window and a higher full-circle rose window on the front of the nearly 50-foot-high square vertical tower. The steeple houses a church bell although the louvered openings have now been permanently closed and painted white to seal out the sometimes-harsh Nebraska weather. A 6-foot golden cross crowns the decoratively-shaped roof cap of the steeple.

The structure continues to bear a close resemblance to the original design although an addition on the northwestern end to accommodate a restroom was constructed in 1998. The church was built in 1913 based on an architectural design by Augustus H. Franck, with the primary builders being carpenters John Anderson and John Sakryt. However, there were numerous contributions by the parishioners to the construction – including the use of horse-drawn scrapers for excavation of the site.

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