It will come to no surprise to all who have ever driven with me in my car when I admit that I am severely directionally challenged. Even trips meticulously planned and guided by GPS can quickly become calamitous. That is why I was blissfully unaware my car was approaching the Cathedral Historic District as I drove through South Dakota into downtown Sioux Falls. Sitting proudly atop a hill overlooking downtown Sioux Falls, the sculpted limestone of St. Joseph Cathedral makes a statement. The heavily ornamented twin spires of this Renaissance Revival structure can be seen from miles away, and it was these very spires that drew my attention and guided me into the district.
The Bishop of Sioux Falls asked French-American architect Emmanuel Louis Masqueray to design St. Joseph Cathedral after visiting the recently finished Cathedral of St. Paul in Minnesota and being impressed with Masqueray's design. Construction of St. Joseph Cathedral started in 1915 but was stalled by material shortages during World War I. Emmanuel Masqueray died in 1917, two years before construction was completed.
The exterior of the cathedral remains largely unchanged; however, notable changes have been made to the interior over the years. A Kilgen pipe organ was installed in 1935, but a fire did significant damage to the cathedral's interior in 1942. Major renovations in the 1970's and 2000's have left the interior in good condition but somewhat changed in overall character.