Saint Aloysius Catholic Church6038 State Route 274
Carthagena, Ohio 45822
Saint Aloysius Catholic Church
Serving a congregation that dates back to 1865, Saint Aloysius Catholic Church was the first to incorporate the tall steeple that is the defining landmark on the Land of Cross-Tipped Churches Scenic Byway.
Considered one of the more modest churches in the region, Saint Aloysius set the style for many of the church buildings erected in later years. Named for its patron saint, Aloysius de Gonzaga, the brick building incorporates a white-painted wooden belfry, vaulted ceilings, and Munich-style stained glass windows depicting the life of Saint de Gonzaga. The sanctuary altars are painted white; in the nave, the pews were built in two sizes to accommodate adults and children. The interior is softly lit by stained glass windows that were added about twenty-five years after the church was completed. A few of the windows depict saints associated with other places named Carthagena, and perhaps recognize the free black community from whom the church land was purchased. Of note is the window illustrating Saint Peter Claver ministering to West Africans at the slave-trading center in Cartagena, Columbia.
The church was enlarged in 1905, but the renovations preserved three of its original walls and the tower. The altars and Stations of the Cross are original, too, dating to the 1878 building. The earliest Catholic churches were built of logs or sawn timber. St. Aloysius in Carthagena replaced one of those early structures which had been built for the free black community that originally settled here. The parish chose Anton DeCurtins, a master carpenter who lived in Carthagena, to design and build their new church. The Gothic Revival building was the first church to incorporate a soaring belfry and steeple, setting the design standard for the churches built after Saint Aloysius. Construction began in 1877 and cost $7500; most of the labor was provided by parishioners who completed the church in 1878.
Beyond his work designing and building churches in the Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches, not much is known about DeCurtins. He emigrated from Switzerland around 1849. His entire family – sons and grandsons – became involved in building and decorating Catholic churches, providing architectural designs, carving altars and pews, and interior decoration. Twelve buildings in the region have been attributed to Anton and his son Anthony.
Saint Aloysius was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.