Abstract This article builds on recent works which challenge the dichotomy between religion and modern urban planning. The article focuses on a case-study in the Alsatian city of Mulhouse during the nineteenth century. Over a period of 30 years, Catholic parishioners and clergy repeatedly petitioned the town’s Calvinist industrial and municipal elite for a church to be built in the paternalist cités ouvrières housing district, culminating in the eventual construction of the church of Saint-Joseph by 1883. Through a close analysis of the archival records of these petitions, the discussions they sparked and the shifting local and national political dynamics of the city, this article argues that religious groups used myriad tactics to engage in modern planning and that municipal authorities were won over by these tactics if they were politically expedient.

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