The Yellow Fever Church was the original Christ Episcopal Church, located where the current Christ Episcopal Church stands today, but facing south.  It was built in 1841, and consecrated on February 12, 1842 by Bishop Otey.  By 1857, the Episcopal Church outgrew the small building.  At the same time, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Mississippi, William Elder, authorized the organization of a Roman Catholic parish in Holly Springs to serve the numerous Roman Catholics who had begun arriving in Holly Springs throughout the 1850s.  Bishop Elder asked Reverend Thomas Grace in Memphis to organize a new church.  In late 1857, the Catholics purchased the Episcopal church and had it moved to its present location, on College Avenue.  The new Catholic Church was renamed St. Joseph’s Church, and re-consecrated by Bishop Elder in November 1857.  Within three years, St. Joseph’s community had over 300 parishioners.

After the end of the Civil War, St. Joseph’s Church lost much of its population, and lost its full time priest.  In 1878, the Yellow Fever Epidemic struck Holly Springs, bringing suffering and death to nearly all the residents of the town.  Roman Catholic Father Antonio A. Oberti (1847-1878) and the nuns of Bethlehem Academy worked courageously and fearlessly to help the victims of the Yellow Fever.  Oberti and the nuns died from the Yellow Fever.

In 1980, St. Joseph’s Church moved to its new church, on Van Dorn Avenue, and this church was de-consecrated and turned into a Museum called the Yellow Fever Martys Church and Museum, honoring the victims and heroes of the epidemic and telling their stories.

The Church has both Greek Revival and Gothic Revival elements, including lancet windows, decorative stickwork on the central tower and pointed arch portals leading to the main entrance.  St. Joseph’s Church had plaster walls and a slave gallery (part of the original Episcopal Church), the only church in Holly Springs to have such a gallery.

4 thoughts

  1. I think your next project should be a book on the architecture of Holly Springs. Your photography is so very good and the comments add so much. I’m looking forward to more pictures.


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