Historic Structures

Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Milwaukee Wisconsin

Date added: November 13, 2009 Categories: Wisconsin Church

The architect's plans for this church were approved in March, 1873; ground was broken in May, the cornerstone laid in August. On December 28 of the following year the church opened, and on January 3, 1875, it was dedicated. Cost of the building is said to have been in excess of $160,000.

Immanuel Church was founded in 1870 by members of the First Presbyterian Church, organized in 1837, and North Presbyterian Church, established in 1849. Before completion of the new edifice on Astor Street, each congregation held services in their own building. First Church, on the northwest corner of Milwaukee and Mason Streets, was a classical structure of wood erected in 1841-43. North Church, located at the northwest corner of Milwaukee and State Streets, was a brick structure of Gothic Revival design and was dedicated in 1855. The former changed hands in 1874 and again seven years later. Then, in 1883, First Church was dismantled, and the present Colby and Abbot Building rose in its place. In 1871 North Church was sold to the Welsh Calvinistic Society and sixteen years ago became the property of the Milwaukee School of Engineering. It serves today as the school's book store.

On December 31, 1887, fire swept through the edifice, damaging rooms in the north wing and completely gutting nave and chancel in the south section, destroying the original red and gray slate roof and gabled dormers of the clerestory windows, consuming all furnishings and fittings, and leaving only the limestone walls intact. When the church was rebuilt, a costly project completed by March, 1889, no attempt was made to duplicate the original auditorium, and the new design was considerably less elaborate, lacking the nave arcade, vaulted aisles, and sumptuous ornament of Its predecessor.

The building is three stories plus basement and two towers. The church measures some 180 feet north-south (including the chancel addition) by 80 feet east-west (north wing). The north tower Is reported to be 100 feet In height, the south tower 150 feet, and the roof, at the ridge, 90 feet.