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812 N JACKSON ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record


Architecture and History Inventory
812 N JACKSON ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Saint John the Evangelical Roman Catholic Cathedral
Other Name:St John the Evangelical Roman Catholic Cathedral
Reference Number:27243
Location (Address):812 N JACKSON ST
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1847
Additions: 1936 1892
Survey Date:20042010
Historic Use:church
Architectural Style:German Renaissance Revival
Structural System:
Wall Material:Cream Brick
Architect:V. SCHULTE (1847)G. FERRY (1892)BRILLMAIER (1936)W.R. Perry - Pittsburg - ????
Other Buildings On Site:0
Demolished Date:
National/State Register Listing Name: Saint John's Roman Catholic Cathedral
National Register Listing Date:12/31/1974
State Register Listing Date:1/1/1989
National Register Multiple Property Name:
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.


HABS WI-321.

1892-93 - tower added.

1936 - rebuilt after fire.

1847-53 - original construction.

Last surveyed in 1984 with map code 138/17 on map LUQS 393.

Resurveyed as part of Milwaukee Downtown Connector Arch/History Survey (2010), Prepared by Heritage Research. DOE completed for entire St John's complex by Heritage Research (2011).

One of Milwaukee's most impressive structures, St. John's Cathedral was begun in 1847. The steeple deteriorated beyond repair and was replaced in 1892 by the extant second and third tower stages. These are Baroque, but delicate enough to accord with the chaste Zopfstil ornamentation and lines. George Bowman Ferry of Milwaukee's Ferry and Clas architectural firm, designed the 1892 tower, adding Baroque ornaments and details executed in a Victorian manner to update the building, and creating one of Milwaukee’s leading landmarks.

A disastrous fire in 1935 gutted the cathedral interior, leaving only the tower intact. The rebuilt and elongated church retained its original Neoclassical style.

St. John's parish, founded in 1837, was Milwaukee's first Roman Catholic congregation. The parish church was elevated to cathedral status in 1841, when papal authority created the Milwaukee Archdiocese.

2010: This religious complex occupies an entire block and consists of five buildings bounded by N. Jackson Street tot he west, E. Wells Street to the south, N. Van Buren Street to the east, and E. Kilbourn Avenue to the north. The complex includes the National Register-listed St. John the Evangelical Roman Catholic Cathedral building at 812 N. Jackson (#27243), as well as the following buildings (which were not accessed as part of the 1974 NRHP nomination): a rectory building located at 802 N. Jackson (#113494); a gymnasium at 840 N. Jackson (#113512); and a school and convent located at 831 N. Van Buren (#113479) and 845 N. Van Buren (#113478). The complex has experienced a number of changes since the original construction of the cathedral in 1849. However, the remaining structures are generally intact and represent a substantial part of the parish/complex history. The school and convent were constructed in 1906, with the gymnasium and rectory added in 1955 and 1950, respectively. The rectory has experienced window alterations, although its original form is still intact.

Prior to the dedication of the present-day St. John the Evangelical Cathedral in 1853, the congregation was housed by the neighboring church of St. Peters. The congregation a one time maintained a school (grades 1-12), a convent and a rectory. The church and rectory buildings retain their historic functions; however, a part of the school that was located directly north of the church has been demolished. The convent now is known as the "Cathedral Center" and the original school is known as the "Archbishop Weakland Center." The cathedral was designated as an historic landmark by the City of Milwaukee in 1992.

"Because he knew that his pioneer parishioners could not finance the cathedral he envisioned, Archbishop Martin J. Henni solicited funds for his church from as far away as Mexico, Cuba, Belgium, and Bavaria. The first mass was celebrated in the completed church in 1853, and since then St. John's has been an intimate part of the lives of Milwaukee's Roman Catholics. Although it harmonizes superbly with the lower portions of the building, the Neo-Baroque tower is not the original one. When the first tower was found to be unsafe in 1880, it was removed, and twelve years later replaced by the Ferry and Clas design. In its construction, brick from a razed house, contemporary with the original cathedral, was used. Other major changes in St. John's came about as a result of the disastrous fire of 1935 which destroyed the cathedrals interior, its hand-carved altar, and its stained glass windows, leaving only the exterior walls and tower intact. Twelve months elapsed before the restored cathedral reopened with Christmas mass celebrated by Archbishop Moses Kiley." Pagel, Mary Ellen & Virginia A Palmer, University Extension The University of Wisconsin, Guides to Historic Milwaukee: Kilbourntown Walking Tour, 1967.
Bibliographic References:BUILT IN MILWAUKEE, LANDSCAPE RESEARCH, P. 132. MILWAUKEE HISTORIC BUILDINGS TOUR: JUNEAUTOWN, CITY OF MILWAUKEE DEPARTMENT OF CITY DEVELOPMENT 1994. MILWAUKEE HISTORIC BUILDINGS TOUR: YANKEE HILL, CITY OF MILWAUKEE DEPARTMENT OF CITY DEVELOPMENT, 1994. Buildings of Wisconsin manuscript. "Historic Designation Study Report of the St. John's Cathedral Complex," Document on file at the City of Milwaukee Historic Preservation Division, Milwaukee, WI Pagel, Mary Ellen & Virginia A Palmer, University Extension The University of Wisconsin, Guides to Historic Milwaukee: Kilbourntown Walking Tour, 1967.
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, State Historic Preservation Office, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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