Sunday, March 8, 2015

Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, Ashland

I was fortunate enough last weekend ago to go and visit the ice caves at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore with some family members.  While waiting for a flat tire repair (not every trip goes without its quirks) I got to stroll around this wonderful old church building in downtown Ashland.

What is now the church of Our Lady of the Lake originated as St. Agnes Catholic Church in the 1870s.  The present structure is the second St. Agnes Church in Ashland, and took a decade to complete.  Furthermore, the St. Agnes name has largely been overtaken by Our Lady of the Lake with the merger of St. Agnes and the Polish Holy Family Catholic parish in the early 1990s [1].

The church building is a lovely and locally rare example of Gothic Revival architecture from what I read with the Wisconsin Historical Society and my limited visits up north [2].  However, it's the brownstone that is most striking as one strolls around the church.   

Brownstone is an important part of Ashland's building stock, as quarries on the nearby Apostle Islands were used to build up some of the region's early institutional buildings [3].  A stroll up Main Street in Ashland will offer a view at its historic City Hall building, among other impressive buildings from the city's heyday as an mining port city for the Apostle Islands and the nearby Gogebic iron range.

In case you can't tell from the differing shades of red and brown, shooting photos of this church in the very bright mid-afternoon sun presented a bit of a challenge during photo-editing.

To the right in this photo is the parish school building, while parish offices are in the building on the left.  Full disclosure: I hear there are fine Gothic altars inside, and I want to get back and see them one of these days!

Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church

Additional Sources

Postscript: Did I really just say that I went to the Apostle Islands ice caves and not offer a picture?

It doesn't take much to twist a trip to the ice caves into its own sort of semi-religious experience, however most of my photos from the day tremble at the though of expressing this.