The history Saint Joseph’s began in the post-Gold Rush days with the arrival of Father Dalton in 1865. The construction of a church and a school, under his administration, began in 1858. The Private School opened in 1860. In 1862, at Father Dalton’s request, a group from the Sisters of Mercy order in San Francisco was invited to visit the area. Later in 1863, a permanent contingent from the Sisters of Mercy returned to take up residence and take over the administration of the school (one for boys and one for girls). In 1865, construction began on what was to become the Convent building. The Sisters occupied the Convent in early 1866 and accepted their first group of orphans a month later.
The facility gained regional importance and expanded its influence on the region by developing three schools, the convent, St. Patrick’s church and assorted other buildings. The reputation was further enhanced by the founding of a “Select School” for young ladies in 1868, which provided advanced education for women in English, Literature, French, German, vocal and instrumental music. No small achievement for this locale only a few short years after the Civil War. So important it had become that for a time it was the home of the Bishop and center of Diocese. Today, the Cultural Center features the Grass Valley Museum, 13 artist’s studios and Menlo Macfarlane’s Art Gallery in the Bishop’s Room, the Moving Ground Dance Studio, John Olmstead’s Earth Planet Museum, and the Grass Valley Taiko Dojo.