1445 N 24TH ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record

1445 N 24TH ST

Architecture and History Inventory
1445 N 24TH ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church
Other Name:St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church Complex
Reference Number:112010
Location (Address):1445 N 24TH ST
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1891
Survey Date:19802015
Historic Use:church
Architectural Style:Early Gothic Revival
Structural System:
Wall Material:Limestone
Architect:H. P. Schnetzky and E. R. Liebert
Other Buildings On Site:Y
Demolished Date:
Additional Information:A 'site file' titled "St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church Complex" exists for this property. It contains additional information such as correspondence, newspaper clippings, or historical information. It is a public record and may be viewed in person at the Wisconsin Historical Society, State Historic Preservation Office. Photo codes are 10-34/8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14.

St. Michael's is an excellent example of late 19th century churches. The wall finish is of rockfaced, ashlar limestone. Its design is influenced by the German Gothic as practiced by many of the local architects.

High Victorian German Gothic Revival Style.

2016- "The complex consists of the following: a High Victorian German Gothic Revival-style church building (1891-1893: AHI 112010); Tudor Revival-style rectory (1925: AHI 230738); Romanesque Revival-style convent (1885: AHI 115896); and a Collegiate Gothic-style school with large Contemporary-style addition (1923 & 1956: AHI 230739), an astylistic garage (1940: AHI 230740) and a short stone retaining wall near the convent. The school is located on the 2433 N. Cherry Street parcel, while the other four buildings, the stone retaining wall and a large parking lot are found on the 1445 N. 24th Street parcel. The parking lot is surrounded by a chain-link fence and has vehicle access toN. 24th and W. Vliet streets.

Fronting W. Vliet Street, the convent is approximately 35 feet from the existing back-of-sidewalk; its short stone retaining wall also coincides with this back-of-sidewalk and is included with the historic boundary. All five buildings and the retaining wall are considered to be contributing, while a chain-link fence and a modern sign are classified as non-contributing.

Oriented to W. 24th Street (the east), this High Victorian German Gothic Revival-style, cruciform plan church is constructed of rusticated limestone and is dominated by an approximately five-story central tower topped with a steeple that is surmounted by a cross. Limestone stairs front the church and lead to three separate entrance portals, each featuring wooden double doors with decorative iron hinges. The central portal (located within the central tower) is larger than the outer two, one each of which is found within two-story, tower-like units topped with a gabled-to-hip roof. Each of the three entries is set within a steeply pitched, gabled surround that features a cut stone, compound arch with engaged column supports topped with carved capitals featuring grapes, oak leaves and acorns. Immediately above each set of doors is a transom with tracery. The remainder of the entrance elevation includes symmetrically arranged lancet windows (along the second level); the central tripartite grouping of which is topped with a rose window and set within a larger pointed arch. Moving up the tower, the next stage carries a blind arcade above which is the belfry that features louvered openings on all four tower faces. The uppermost stage includes a clock face on each elevation, the corners of which are embellished with miniature tower-like ornament that is unique to Schnetzky & Liebert churches. All corners of the church include stone buttress trim.

The church's north and south elevations are nearly identical. Beginning at the east end, the facades include both rectangular and lancet openings within the three-sided section along the first and second levels (on the interior, this space-on both sides-houses a staircase). Differing from the north elevation, this portion includes an additional side entry to the church on the south. Moving west, the next section is vertically articulated into three bays by the use of buttresses. Along the main level, each bay along the north side features a single pointed-arch opening that carries a stained-glass window with tracery (protected by X" Lexan), while the raised basement level includes paired sash openings within two of the bays. In addition to a pointed-arch window, the initial bay on the south carries a one-story, three-sided projection, each side includes a lancet window. Continuing west, the transept end walls project slightly from the main block; the east elevations of which include additional double-door entrances to the church (the north example is no longer utilized and blocked from the inside). Each transept end wall itself-which is trimmed with stone buttressing and tower ornament-terminates as a gabled parapet and includes a large pointed-arch window with stained glass and tracery above which is a pointed-arched, tripartite sash window arrangement; the raised basement includes paired, rectangular openings.

The building's rear elevation is comprised of a polygonal apse that extends from the modestly projecting rear gabled wing. The five-sided apse is detailed with buttressing and includes a lancet arch, stained-glass window to either side of the central rose window. Completing the rear elevation and to either side of the apse are one-and-one-half-story units topped with hipped roofs and connected around the apse by a one-story ambulatory. The unit to the north houses the former vestry (and which is now utilized for storage), while the south unit serves as the sacristy. Windows within each of these latter units are rectangular and are comprised of painted-glass windows, like those found in the tower units at the front of the church. Finally, located at the crossing juncture, is a highly ornate louvered wooden tower embellished with a pinnacle and crockets.

The exterior of the church has not undergone any significant alterations, less the recent accident that prompted the partial reconstruction of the front stairs (which is being replaced in kind with local limestone) and the replacement of the original slate roof with the existing asphalt shingles.

The interior exhibits the expected cruciform plan that includes narthex, nave, transept, altar, sacristy, vestry and choir. Interior features are largely original, including the following: compound piers that support the groin vaulted ceiling; stained-glass windows of the nave (executed by the Tyrolese Art Glass Company of lnnsbruck, Austria, and recently re-leaded by Enterprise Art Glass; painted-glass windows in the east stair towers, sacristy (which retains all original cabinetry) and vestry; and the intricately carved wooden church furniture-specifically the reredos and high altar, side altars and confessional screen-which was executed by Erhard Brielmaier (the architect responsible for the design and church furniture of the National Register-listed Basilica of St. Josaphat and which the since has been named a National Historic Landmark. Ca. 1910 statuary depicting the Stations of the Cross is located around the nave's perimeter. The lower level is one large and open space, while the choir level continues to retain the pipe organ (which is no longer utilized).

Alterations to the interior include the 1950s-era removal of the basement-level church, which was original to the building. Stained-glass windows along this level were installed in the 1950s. The church's main level continues to include the original wooden pews (which have been stripped and re-stained); however, they have been arranged such that they are now oriented to a recently constructed altar at the transept."
-"St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church Complex", WISDot 2984-00-03, Prepared by Heritage Research, Ltd. (Brian J. Faltinson & Traci E. Schnell), 2016.

The St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church congregation traces its roots to 1883 when it was organized with members from other parishes on Milwaukee’s rapidly growing north side. The parish quickly built a church and parsonage (both not extant) and initiated a school the next year within the church building taught by three Sisters of Notre Dame. The congregation grew quickly as the immediate area was settled primarily by residents of German decent. A separate school building (not extant) and School Sisters of Notre Dame convent (extant) were completed by 1887. In 1891, the congregation hired architects Herman P. Schnetzky and Eugene R. Liebert to design the present church, which was completed in 1893. In 1923 and 1924, St. Michael’s added a new school (extant) and remodeled the old church and school into an assembly hall (not extant) and recreation hall (not extant) designed by architect Peter Brust. Brust & Philipp submitted plans for the present rectory a year later. The congregation grew to approximately 12,000 members by the 1920s and up to eleven services were delivered each Sunday. An addition to the school designed by the firm of Brust & Brust was completed in 1959. The School Sisters ceased using the convent in the 1960s and the last class graduated from the school in 1970. In 1970, Rev. James Groppi -- a noted activist in the Milwaukee civil rights movement during the 1960s, was transferred to St. Michael’s; he departed the parish by 1976. Since 1980, the school has been owned by the Urban Day School and a variety of social service organizations have operated out of the former convent. Today, St. Michael’s parish consists of about 2,000 members and offers religious services in six languages.
Bibliographic References:Building Permit. Cornerstone. Perrin, R.W. E., "Milwaukee Landmarks," p. 27. Zimmerman, 215. "Golden Jubilee of St. Michael's Church," (Milwaukee: Nowiny Publishing Co., 1933). Architectural Plans -- In possession of St. Michael's parish.
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, State Historic Preservation Office, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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