St. Joseph’s Church – Damar, Kansas

Harland and I traveled to Colorado to spend Thanksgiving with my sister and her family. We drove out last Wednesday, and by late afternoon we had reached the tiny town of Damar, Kansas where we stopped to take photos of the beautiful church there.

By the early 1880s in America, there was little land available for settlement. But in 1884, a Civil War veteran and French Canadian by the name of Francis St. Peter, was able to purchase 160 acres of land in Rooks county, Kansas under the Homestead Act for the lofty sum of $4.00.  Soon, other French Canadians followed St. Peter to form a settlement eventually given the name Damar. In 1912, work was started on a new church to replace the outgrown wooden church, and by the following year, the twin bell towers were completed.

Twenty train carloads of locally quarried limestone were used for the outside walls, and 130 cords of native rock were used for the inside walls. With the parishioners donating most of the labor, the main structure was finally finished, and in 1917 the first Mass was celebrated in the church. Due to hard times, the church was not fully completed until many years later.The pews and heating system were installed in 1929. The interior decorating and stained glass were added between 1944 and 1952.

The most beautiful feature in my opinion is the hand-painted stenciling on the walls and ceiling.

Towering columns throughout the church appear to be made of marble, but in fact are solid concrete with a decorative finish that resembles marble.

In 2005, the church was placed the National Register of Historic Places.

Harland and I stayed until early evening, and then got back on the road to Colorado. We arrived late that evening, but our visit to the lovely church out on the plains was worth the detour.

——-> UP NEXT: Rocky Mountain National Park under a blanket of snow – the mountains and their wildlife- from herds of elk to coyotes on the hunt.


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Cattle, corn, wheat, beans, mud, snow, ice, and drought. Plenty of fresh air and quiet. Our life is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, but never boring.

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31 Responses

  1. Glenda says:

    Another jewel of Kansas revealed in your wonderful photography and historical context. Glad you made it home all right. I bet Kitty was glad to see you.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Glenda,
      Oh thank you. It’s easy to take pictures in a beautiful place like that church. We made it home Saturday night, and Kitty was happy to see us, and also full of beans. She played and chased and stalked us all evening. Thanks for stopping by,

  2. Glenda says:

    Cooked cranberries. SO much better than boughten! I added a couple of sticks of cinnamon to add something different.I had leftovers and have been eating them on my corn flake based cereal with a packet of sweetner to ward against the tart.
    Very good!

  3. Oh my, how beautiful! I love beautiful ornate churches like this….not that I ever get to visit any, but I love looking at the pictures and I am always amazed. It just looks so peaceful.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Bonnie,
      When I go into churches like this, I just have to stop inside the door and stand there in awe. So beautiful and so quiet too.

  4. I love road trips. I have been blessed in my chilhood and also as an adult to cross our country in a car and experience many back roads where the soul of America is, like in this amazing church you shared with us. Everyone should get off the highways now and then and discover our beautiful country. Thanks for sharing. 🙂 joyce

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Joyce,
      You’re absolutely right: Most of the best things to see are off the highways.
      Thanks for your visit!

  5. Absolutely beautiful!

  6. What a beautiful church!!! I’m so glad its being loved and cared for.

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Sue,
      Me too. I always hope that all these churches will last forever, because they can’t build them like that anymore, they’re irreplaceable.

  7. trisha harris says:

    Love the photos of the beautiful Church. Amazing and and has stood the test of time.

  8. Melanie says:

    One of my favorite things about western Kansas are it’s beautiful, huge cathedrals!! They are blessed with lots of them! thanks for sharing

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Melanie,
      You’re welcome. It’s always surprising to find such beautiful churches here, but the European settlers missed their churches so much, but built ones of their own here, and we are the grateful recipients of their vision and hard work.
      Thanks for your visit.

  9. Carrie says:

    Gorgeous pictures. I love your blog!

  10. Chester's Mom says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! The Damar church comparable to the great cathedrals of Europe!

    • Suzanne says:

      Hi Chester’s Mom,
      Not the kind of beautiful building you expect to find in the middle of the U.S. , but they’re all over in this part of the country.

  11. Wow – such beautiful pictures of a beautiful place! 🙂

  12. Again, beautiful pictures. I have never been to this church but have seen it from the highway. Is this the one they call the Cathedral on the Plains? Just wondering.

  13. This is gorgeous! I think it’s every bit as beautiful as the better known St Fidelis, Cathedral of the Plains in Victoria.

    • Suzanne says:

      Me too. The thing about the Cathedral of the Plains that it is BIG. Beautiful in its own right, but just BIG. I have to agree with you, there are a lot of prettier churches that go unnoticed.

  14. Sr. Diane Brin says:

    Judy, these pics are gorgeous. I was growing up in Damar when they were putting all the finishing touches. All the angles and lighting are beautiful. Have not seen anything the likes of these views. You captured the spirit one feels when walking around the Church. Went home for my 25th and 50th jubilee celebrations and the Masses were beautiful. Thanks for stopping in and treating the rest of us. It will make me more appreciative. / Diane

  15. Roger says:

    Great pictures Suzanne! I have been there many times, but each person’s photo perspective is always interesting and unique. Just for reference, the process to make the columns look like marble is called Scagliola. They were refurbished, along with other improvements, with a grant after the church was placed on the National Register.

  16. My grandfathers Philsime (P.H.) Roy and Stanislaus Morin helped build St Joseph Church in Damar, Kansas, as did my great-grandfather, Leon Hebert.

  17. Linda Roy Cross says:

    My brother, Gary/ Fr. Duane Roy was baptized there and also celebrated mass there 50 years of being a priest in June 2017.

  18. Diane Brin says:

    SUZANNE — I apologize for using the wrong name when I last wrote. Last night I just arrived after spending a month in Damar at my sister’s former home two doors away from our beautiful St. Joseph’s. The bells were ringing when I arrived there on Sept 10 at 6p and again yesterday when I left at 1:00 p. They are such beautiful sounds and almost lyrical. The month was a life changing event — reconnecting with the land, family, old and newer friends, classmates, attending Mass and a family wedding. It was a special 60th anniversary trip as a Sr of St. Joseph of Concordia, KS.

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