Erie’s Oktoberfest is happening this weekend.
Thursday night, we had an inside look at one of Erie’s oldest parishes- St. Joseph Church.
Bill Smith has been giving tours of st. Joseph bread of life community church for than 30 years.
Smith said the german parish is one of the remaining anchors of Erie’s German neighborhood, adding in the 1950’s the church was the center of a once thriving community.
“A leather harness shop back when you still had horses and carts and everything. All kinds of stuff all down Peach Street and over into this area in Boston they were bakeries. They were corner stores. There was a corner store on every corner,” said Bill Smith, church historian for St. Joseph Church.
Smith said his family settled in this neighborhood on West 23rd St., near where Sommerfest, St. Joseph’s Order German Festival took place.
“People from the whole neighborhood came in. We didn’t know whether you were Catholic or not because it was just open to everybody and there were still even St. John’s was a German parish still at that time and it was just a neighborhood gathering of people celebrating the late summer,” Smith explained.
At the 17th annual Oktoberfest this weekend, Smith will be giving tours of the St. Joseph’s.
“When you have someone that knows the history because they’ve lived in history, that is a valuable asset and again people that move in and out of erie don’t know what erie holds and our church is one of the most beautiful churches in the city of erie with a hand carved back altar and everything else it’s part of a german heritage,” said Father Larry Richards, pastor of St. Joseph church