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Architecture and History Inventory
818 N EAST AVE | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:St. Joseph's Catholic Church Complex
Other Name:
Reference Number:16808
Location (Address):818 N EAST AVE
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1888
Survey Date:1980
Historic Use:church
Architectural Style:Gothic Revival
Structural System:
Wall Material:Brick
Architect:A. DRUIDING
Other Buildings On Site:0
Demolished Date:
National/State Register Listing Name: St. Joseph's Catholic Church Complex
National Register Listing Date:10/28/1983 12:00:00 AM
State Register Listing Date:1/1/1989 12:00:00 AM
National Register Multiple Property Name:Multiple Resources of Waukesha
Additional Information:A 'site file' 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, Division of Historic Preservation-Public History.

There are six buildings in the St. Joseph Church complex. The church building was begun in 1888, and remains as an important example of the High Victorian Gothic period of design. The facade consists of a grouping of gable forms, the entrance porch overlapping the tracery window of the nave. Adjoining the nave on the northeast corner is the rectangular steple and spire. Randomly coursed limestone forms the walls of the church. Contrasting with the massive walls are thin cylindrical spires which adjoin the gables and embrace the steeple. The walls of the facade are pierced by entrances and rose windows and small lancet windows. The church was designed by A. Druiding, a Chicago architect who also designed a church in Oshkosh.

The interior of St. Joseph's was renovvated in 1966. The most impressive features of the interior, the five bay vaulted ceiling and pointed arch windows of the nave, remain. The windows are pacrticularly noteworthy, and contain stained and bevelled glass which enlivens the interior.

The Medical Clinic is connected to the church. A portion of this building was the original 1848 church which was incorporated into a school building in 1917 with a new facade. The building is two stories in height; it features two large wings which extend to the lot line and flank a recessed entryway. The facades feature randomly limestone while other elevations are a mixture of regularly coursed limestone and brick. Because of the remodeling, this building does not contribute to the significance of the property. This building is a separate record.

The rectory is a three story frame house clad with aluminum siding.

The church hall and school is a two-story brick building constructed in 1959.

At the far south end of the parking lot stands a concrete block garage.

The Martin Brown House (separate record) and the church building are being nominated for architectural significance. St. Joseph's Catholic Church, significant as a representative example of a period of construction, is one of the finest examples of High Victorian Gothic ecclesiastical design in the community of Waukesha. The other comparable nominated property is First Baptist Church (247 Wisconsin Ave. WK 4/29) which predates this building by sixteen years. Both churches are constructed of rock faced limestone and contain the vertical emphasis and design components associated with the style. These churches are significant as examples of the various phases of High Victroian Gothic style in Waukesha, and provide interesting contrasts between Catholic and Protestant iconography and the consequent effect on the church design.

St. Joseph's Parish was organized by circuit rider Fr. Martin Kundig in 1942. The first church was a log cabin donated by merchant Solomon Juneau in 1843 on this site. The parish built its first stone church in 1844 and replaced it with the present building in 1888. The 1844 building became the parish hall and in 1917, part of the parish school. This building, greatly remodeled, still stands directly north of the church. St. Joseph's was the first Catholic Church in the community, and played a large role in the spiritual and social life of nineteenth century Waukesha. It remained the sole Catholic church in the city until the development of outlying parishes in the 1940s and 50s..
Bibliographic References:(A) Zimmerman, #797. (B) Waukesha Freeman, Sept. 12, 1878. (C) Cornerstone. (D) A Century of Grace, St. Joseph's Centennial Book, 1942. (E) Bird's Eye Map of Waukesha, J.J. Stoner & Co., 1880. (F) Waukesha City Directories, 1897-98, 1901-02. (G) Butterfield, The HIstory of Waukesha Co., Wisconsin, 1880, p. 654-656.
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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