Construction crew solves the Salem mystery of St. Joseph’s statue

Updated May 20, 2013
Credit: Planning Office for Urban AffairsCredit: Planning Office for Urban Affairs

For 64 years people in Salem, Massachusetts wondered “Where did St. Joseph go?”

Between 1911 and 1944, a 12-foot-tall statue of St. Joseph stood watch 100 feet above the ground in the edifice of the church in Salem that bore his name, according to The Salem News. Though St. Joseph Church burned down in the Salem Fire of 1914, the skeleton of the church and the statue remained. The statue was taken down in 1944 and a large crowd gathered to watch.

And at some point between then and 1950 the statue was buried. Until just a couple weeks ago, no one knew exactly where.

The Planning Office for Urban Affairs demolished the old church skeleton and is now building a $20 million affordable apartment complex on the site. Before work began sonar and ground-penetrating radar were used to search for the statue in order to make record of and then re-bury the statue if it was found. No luck.

But then, on May 3 while digging the last footing for the new building’s foundation, workers uncovered the statue. Lisa Alberghini, president of the Planning Office for Urban Affairs, made a neat remark on the discovery.

“St. Joseph was a carpenter, and it’s wonderful and appropriate to honor him today at this active construction site where we are working to build new homes … up out of this ground, for people in need,” Alberghini said during the reburial of the statue in a private cemetery.