Emmanuel was the first Catholic Church in Montgomery County and was established in 1837 as a German Territorial Parish. Bishop Purcell laid the cornerstone of the present building that was constructed in 1871. The church has the unique features of two balconies and an 85ft high ceiling that is not supported by pillars, thus giving an unobstructed view of the altar. Emmanuel has been called the “Mother Parish” not only of Dayton and Montgomery County but the Archdiocesan region. Cities with parishes that sprang from the ‘Mother Parish” include Bellefontaine, Urbana, Springfield, Morrow, Xenia, Yellow Springs. South Charleston, Wilmington, Jamestown, Miamisburg, and Osborn. In 1913 Emmanuel as well as all downtown Dayton were victims of the flooding of the rivers that converged into the Miami River in Dayton. The water reached the height of the windowsills inside the church.
The number of English-speaking Catholics in Dayton identified the need to have a church where English was the primary language and thus was born St. Joseph. The Irish-Catholic residents of Dayton were enthusiastic, and a lot was purchased, and building began on St. Joseph Church. The name “St. Joseph” was chosen because the English-speaking parishioners had worshipped on the St. Joseph side of Emmanuel Church. The original building was replaced in 1909 and was dedicated on March 19, 1911, the Feast of St. Joseph. Fr. Patrick O'Mealy was the first pastor. As the Italian immigrants arrived in Dayton many made St. Joseph their church and in 1972 the parish celebrated the Festa San Giuseppe led by the Auxiliary Archbishop of Cincinnati, Most Rev. Nicholas Elko.