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Architecture and History Inventory
309 DESNOYER ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Holy Cross Church
Other Name:Holy Cross Church
Reference Number:51768
Location (Address):309 DESNOYER ST
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1914
Survey Date:1983
Historic Use:church
Architectural Style:Neogothic Revival
Structural System:
Wall Material:Brick
Other Buildings On Site:0
Demolished Date:
National/State Register Listing Name: Holy Cross Church
National Register Listing Date:3/29/1984
State Register Listing Date:1/1/1989
National Register Multiple Property Name:Multiple Resources of Kaukauna
Additional Information:A 'site file' (Kaukauna Historic Properties) 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.

Holy Cross Church (1916), located at the northwest corner of Desnoyer and Doty Streets, exhibits both Romanesque and Gothic elements. Oriented east-west with a cruciform plan, the main portion of this cream-colored brick building (including the nave) is contained within a large gable roof but is intersected by projecting gables formed by the transept. On the north and south facades, small turrets flank the gables (which display brick corbelling). Pilasters are located between the side aisle windows. Teh recessed triple arch entranceways of the front facade have small round windows above the doorway. Statuary is located in a niche above the large arched stained glass window with quatrefoil tracery (similar windows are located on the north and south gables as well). Anchoring the main facade is a four section square tower located at the southwest corner of the church. Each side of the uppermost level of the tower has a clock and paired louvred openings contained within a recessed arch. Four small turrets and four pedimented gables surround a pointed steeple. Crosses top both the steeples and the peak of the gables.

The interior plan has round rib vaulting and consists of a gallery and choir over the narthex; a central nave crossed by a transept; and a semi-circular apse which displays six round arch stained glass windows and an impressive marble altar. The columns of the nave arcade have decorative foliated capitols.

Holy Cross School is also located near the church. This elementary school consists of several modern buildings which are two story rectangular brick blocks with large expanses of glass. The modern two-story brick rectory building is adjacent to the church. All of these structures were built within the last twenty-five years and will not be included in the nomination.

Holy Cross Church reflects the great influence of Gothic Revival design on ecclesiastic architecture in Kaukauna. The building, with its nearly complete integrity, is a locally significant example of transitional Romanesque/Gothic design. The tower rising at the southwest corner of the church displays both round arch windows characteristic of Romanesque architecture as well as the pointed steeple of the Gothic. Although its size is not immense as St. Mary's Catholic Church, the interior of Holy Cross is no less distinguished with its marble altar and beautiful stained glass.

Historically interesting as the church which serves the original Catholic parish in Kaukauna, Holy Cross Church was constructed in 1914 after members of pioneer north sides familes, including the Grignons, joined with more recent Catholic residents and even non-Catholics in a fund-raising campaign to replaced the original church which had been burned the previous year. Since its completion, the church has played an outsized role in the development of north side Kaukauna, providing a spiritual and social center for the strongly Catholic community, with a congregation which included French, German and Dutch members.

"Holy Cross Church is a continuing symbol of the pioneer Catholics who participated in the fur trade, helped to build the locks and dams, and established farms along the Fox River. It was the original French Catholic parish of Kaukauna. The original members of the congregation attended services in Little Chute at the parish of Father Theodore Van der Broek, and included French-Canadian farming and trading families such as the Grignons. The earlier church on the site was built in 1873, and in the mid-1870s Fannie Grignon, a daughter of Kaukauna's famous pioneer family, served as teacher of Holy Cross School. The erection of the original Holy Cross was hailed as a coming-of-age for north Kaukauna by contemporaries, so that the predominantly Catholic residents of the community would no longer have to go out of town to attend services.

The present church is more recent than the 1898 St. Mary's Church, but historically St. Mary's was an offshoot of Holy Cross. As the older parent church was destroyed in the 1913 fire, and it had the example of the elegant exuberance of the design of its daughter church, south side St. Mary's. But the parish opted for a new design which was both handsome and maneagable in size, reflecting the relative stability of Kaukauna's growth in the Teens and Twenties as opposed to the boom period of the 80's and 90's which produced St. Mary's. Taken for its own sake, without comparisons with the larger St. Mary's, Holy Cross reflects the ethnic traditions of European design and the heritage of its French, German, and Dutch founders in an attractive and cohesive whole. It is an obvious and enduring north Kaukauna landmark." Walking Tour Through Old Kaukauna: Two Self-Guided Historic Tours Kaukauna, Wisconsin, City of Kaukauna, 1983.
Bibliographic References:(A) Kaukauna Times, Oct. 31, 1913; June 12, 1914. (B) Rummel, Rev. Leo O., O. Praem, History of the Catholic Church in Wisconsin, c. 1898, Knights of Colunbus, Wisconsin Council, p. 650, 651. (C) Bubolz, Gordon A., Lillian Mackesy, et al., editors, Land of the Fox, 1949, Appleton, WI, Outagamie County State Centennial Committee, Inc., p. 198. (D) Cornerstone. Walking Tour Through Old Kaukauna: Two Self-Guided Historic Tours Kaukauna, Wisconsin, City of Kaukauna, 1983.
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, State Historic Preservation Office, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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