In 1872, Father Thomas Quirk was appointed as the first Catholic pastor of Cabell County and its surrounding territory. Father Quirk erected a church, rectory and school, which was located on 8th Avenue and 20th Street. Some of the parishioners were not too optimistic about the establishment of the school, even though Father Quirk was to be one of the three teachers. Those opposing had never lived within the confines of a parish blessed with a parochial school. They were sincerely skeptical of its advantages and fearful of the cost. Others, however, wanted to see their children receive the advantages of a Catholic education without having to send them off to boarding schools. These optimists encouraged Father to go on and see the project through. Bishop Richard Whalen, an ardent advocate of parochial schools, approved the undertaking. After a flood that damaged much of Huntington in the late 1880’s, Father Quirk observed that 6th Avenue and 13th Street was unaffected. He decided to purchase this land for his new church, rectory and school. The first building that was created on the property was the rectory.
In September 1884, Father John W. Werninger, a native of the Diocese of Wheeling and a son of one of Huntington’s prominent families, replaced Father Quirk. When his revenue permitted, he began construction of a new building on 13th Street. In 1889, the new combination church and school was dedicated and the first Mass was offered.
In 1894, Father Werninger engaged three Sisters of Mercy to take over the school. In 1900, the Diocesan Sisters of Saint Joseph succeeded the Sisters of Mercy. The rectory was made into a convent for the Sisters and shortly thereafter, Father directed the building of a new rectory on the corner of 13th Street and 6th Avenue.
In 1899, Father Henry Altmeyer became Father Werninger’s successor. During this time, Huntington’s Catholic population was growing; consequently, the church and school building needed to be expanded, so a rigorous building program was initiated. In addition, St. Joseph’s parish was in such good order, spiritually and physically, that Pope Pius IX, on recommendation of the Bishop John J. Swint, elevated Father Altmeyer to Monsignor.
It was evident that Monsignor Altmeyer was not going to rest on his laurels. He, like his predecessors, was dedicated to the cause of Catholic education; he showed this by establishing a parochial high school. In 1924, a ninth grade class was offered with the intention of building up the curriculum yearly so that a full four-year high school could be formed. He purchased a piece of property on the corner of 6th Avenue and 13th Street across from the rectory, renovated it for a high school and engaged the Sisters of St. Joseph to form its faculty. Although the building’s structure and facilities were not comparable to the public high school, these disadvantages were overlooked by the parents who enrolled their children in St. Joseph High School and who were amply rewarded by the solid education their sons and daughters received. The Class of 1928, with 7 students, became the first alumni of St. Joseph High School.
After the sudden death of Monsignor Altmeyer in the summer of 1930, Monsignor James F. Newcomb was appointed pastor of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and Dean of the Huntington Deanery. He also continued in the office of Superintendent of the Diocesan School System. Being a schoolman, the new pastor naturally turned his attention to the schools of his parish. He decided to replace the original building, which had been converted into the high school. The old building was demolished, and in 1932 the new high school facility opened.
This same year, St. Joseph High School was given accreditation by the State of West Virginia as a first-class, four-year high school. In 1959, the school became a Central Catholic High School for the parishes of Huntington. Also at this time, five classrooms and a physics/chemistry lab were added, and the gymnasium was remodeled to regulation size.
After Monsignor Newcomb passed away on August 29, 1960, Monsignor George J. Burke became the fifth pastor of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Monsignor Burke’s administration dealt with reducing the debt that had been created over the many years of renovations.
In September 2000, the Regina K. Zitter Technology Wing was added to the school as a new, three-story addition, housing a 28-station computer research lab, a math lab, a science lab and a rooftop deck weather station.