In 1873, Bishop Thomas Hendricken, Bishop of the Diocese of Providence, R.I., understood the spiritual needs of Catholics in the North End of Fall River. Consequently, he assigned Fr. William H. Bric, a native of Co. Kerry, Ireland to come and establish a Catholic Parish there. Fr. Bric built a temporary edifice for worship at a spot on Vestal St. where Catholics gathered and worshiped for 3-4 years across from the Old North Burial Ground.
Eventually, Fr. Bric purchased a large tract of land at the corner of North Main and Weetamoe Streets. At the rear of this lot he relocated his small Church. Soon he realized the need for a larger church building to accommodate the larger number of Catholic families coming to Sunday Mass. So he confided to his people the need for them to join with him in building a new temple to the glory of God that would be a fitting monument to the faith of those early Catholic pioneers in this great industrial city.
Architect Patrick C. Keeley was entrusted with drawing up the plans for St. Joseph Church and ground was broken for the new Church on August 5, 1880. Fr. Bric, with a history of heart ailments, died two days later on August 7, 1882 at the age of 39, eight days before the laying of the new cornerstone. Fr. Andrew Brady, a native of Co. Cavan, Ireland was assigned as the second pastor of St. Joseph's with the task of completing the church building, a task he completed. But Fr. Brady, also a man of poor health, died on February 18, 1885 at the age of 38. Fr. Brady's Solemn High Requiem Mass marked the first solemn religious service held in the new St. Joseph Church. The mortal remains of Fr. Bric and Fr. Brady lie at rest in the church basement immediately under the church altar.
The church is a large and handsome structure with brick and stone trimming, 170 feet in length, 78 feet wide with walls 30 feet high. Built without galleries, the large stained glass windows on the North and South sides bring light and cheerfulness to it's interior. The ornate stained glass windows above the sanctuary depict the Old Testament stories of Abraham and Melchizedek, Abraham and Isaac and the New Testament Glorification of Joseph and the Coronation of Mary.
The church proper is divided into three broad isles with original flooring of hard pine and pews of ash and black walnut trimmings. The original pew numbers still decorate the end of each pew. The rectory was built by Fr. Boylan in 1889 and the Sisters of Mercy opened St. Joseph's Parochial School for the first time in the fall of 1907. Over the years, St. Joseph's Parish continued to grow into an active spiritual and social community, known for it's quality education, success in sports and for providing many religious and priestly vocations for service in the church. St. Joseph Church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.