Thursday, May 7, 2015

St. Joseph Catholic Church, Waukesha, Part 1 - Exterior

St. Joseph's in Downtown Waukesha is one of the oldest churches in this historic, now largely suburban area, to the west of Milwaukee. A co-founder of Milwaukee, Solomon Juneau, donated land that this parish complex thrives on today back in 1843, five years before Wisconsin was admitted into statehood[1]. This Gothic Revival structure is the third church building for the parish.


According to Parish history text, this building was completed in 1890, with the cornerstone (above, left) noting construction of the parish moving ahead two years prior. At right is a marker denoting the church as an official city landmark, a designation the church earned in 1983 [2].

The prominent steeple draws the visitor's eye upward, its alternating bands of colored slate adding a nice touch. The Wisconsin Historical Society's record for St. Joseph's remarks that the church is specifically a fine example of High Victorian Gothic [3].

The arched windows continue to mark the Gothic style. The firm of Adolphus Druiding designed St. Joseph's. Just a few years later, the Druiding team designed another church visited by the blog, St. John Cantius in Chicago. The limestone chosen for the church and some of its partner buildings on the parish campus make for a pleasing exterior.

As a cartographer by passion, I was thrilled to see a map of the parish complex, although I found it slightly odd that the map is located squarely in the center of the campus (see the faint "you are here" label in the center of the map)! The church, chapel and parish activity center that I photographed are all in the upper left-hand (northeast) corner of this map.

The front doors to the old parish school, now parish activity center. Part of this building was actually built from the church that preceded the current St. Joseph's Church, built roughly in 1848. If I had realized this fact while taking photos, I would have examined this building in more detail.

Core to the vitality of this parish is its Hispanic community.

A quick note for context: These photos were shot awhile ago, in June 2014, with plans to make a more-intensive church architectural and historical review.  I chatted with the parish priest, Father Bill Key, who offered a wealth of parish history and gave me a tour of the church before leaving me to shoot photos.  Furthermore, a friend of mine put me in touch with the Wisconsin Historic Society who also has a treasure trove of information about Wisconsin's historic churches.  With other projects and the need to get other posts online, I finally started putting this post, the first of three, together this winter. This post and its forthcoming partner posts rely heavily on the histories shared with me by the parish and state historical society.

St. Joseph Parish

Additional Sources:

[1] History of St. Joseph's Parish. Written approximately 2006. Provided in photocopy by Fr. Bill Key.
[2] Waukesha Comparison National Register of Historic places (NHRP) Local Landmarks List.
[3] 818 N East Ave, Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory.,Nrc:id-4294961467-dynrank-disabled,N:4294963828-4294963814&dsNavOnly=N:1159&dsRecordDetails=R:HI16808

No comments:

Post a Comment