When the Sisters of St. Joseph arrived in Concordia in 1884, one of their first tasks was to build a Motherhouse, which would serve as their convent and as an “academy” for students of all faiths.
The original Motherhouse was next to the Catholic Church, at the corner of Fifth and Olive streets in what is now the Manna House of Prayer. But the congregation was quickly outgrowing that building, and Mother Superior Stanislaus Leary purchased land on the south edge of Concordia for a larger convent and academy. The cornerstone for what would be a massive five-story brick and native stone building was laid in 1902, and the congregation moved to the new Nazareth Convent and Academy at 1300 Washington St. just 13 months later. For all of its history, the landmark red building has been the spiritual home for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, and all of the sisters in the congregation try to “come home” at least twice a year for community gatherings called “assemblies.”
The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
Today it is home to more than 30 Sisters of St. Joseph who have retired from active ministry. It also houses some administrative offices and hosts a variety of public events throughout the year, including the annual spaghetti dinner in March and the Christmas Open House in December. Tours can be scheduled every afternoon, from 2 to 4 p.m., and by appointment by calling 785/243-2113, ext. 1101, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.