Historic Structures

St. Mary's Church, Milwaukee Wisconsin

Date added: November 20, 2009 Categories: Wisconsin Church

This is the oldest Catholic church in Milwaukee with the exception of a small wooden chapel dedicated to St. Peter, which stood on or near the present cathedral and is now restored on the grounds of St. Francis's Seminary. The cornerstone was laid by Bishop Henni on Whit-Sunday, April 19, I846. The dedication took place on September 12, I847.

The present form of the church is largely the result of major alterations made in 1866 by Victor Schulte, architect, in which the school which occupied a lower floor was eliminated, the east end of the church enlarged, the main auditorium lowered to ground levels the lower windows bricked-up, and the entire facade enlarged and rebuilt together with the tower.

The original church is described in William George Bruce, Joseph C. Hoffman and Henry C. Schranck's St. Mary's Church Milwaukee. Published for the Church's Diamond Jubilee (Milwaukee: 1921) as being of brick about 50' wide and 100' in length. It consisted of two stories with the auditorium above and the school below both lighted with a series of side windows. Doric type brick pilasters separated bays and adorned the front, A simple tower in three stages with a gilded dome and cross was placed across the main gable. Access to the auditorium level was by double stairway.

The church now measures 54' on Broadway by 152' on E. Kilbourn.