Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record

2740 W RYAN RD

Architecture and History Inventory
2740 W RYAN RD | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
NAMES
Historic Name:Painesville Chapel
Other Name:PAINESVILLE MEMORIAL CHAPEL
Contributing:
Reference Number:8711
PROPERTY LOCATION
Location (Address):2740 W RYAN RD
County:Milwaukee
City:Franklin
Township/Village:
Unincorporated Community:
Town:
Range:
Direction:
Section:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
PROPERTY FEATURES
Year Built:1852
Additions:
Survey Date:2007
Historic Use:cemetery building
Architectural Style:Greek Revival
Structural System:
Wall Material:Clapboard
Architect:Henry Roethe
Other Buildings On Site:
Demolished?:No
Demolished Date:
DESIGNATIONS
National/State Register Listing Name: Painesville Chapel
National Register Listing Date:11/7/1977 12:00:00 AM
State Register Listing Date:1/1/1989 12:00:00 AM
National Register Multiple Property Name:
NOTES
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.

In 1936, when the Painesville Chapel stood abandoned and derelict, architect Alexander Guth, working for the Historic American Buildings Survey, declared the chapel “a veritable bit of New England transplanted to Wisconsin,” thereby sparking a restoration campaign. The original congregants’ descendants formed the Painesville Memorial Association, which restored the building. Guth, however, was mistaken: the chapel’s roots lay not in New England, but in Germany. It was built by a small group of German Freethinkers, the first Freie Gemeinde (Free Congregation) in Wisconsin. These agnostic intellectuals, dedicated to individual freedom of thought, named their chapel after revolutionary thinker Thomas Paine. The group petered out after 1900, but the chapel survives as one of the last Freie Gemeinde halls in the state.

To Guth, the building’s simple Greek Revival design evoked New England, but the German congregants likely chose the style for its popular association with democracy and free thought. Small and rectangular, the clapboard-clad chapel has a front-gabled roof with characteristic eaves returns and triangular pediments over the door and windows. Inside, the building appears as it was described in 1876: portraits of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and geographer Alexander Humboldt hang on the walls, overlooking the original pulpit, pews, and stove. The memorial association rebuilt the foundation and added concrete front steps and electric lighting.

RETURNED EAVES. PEDIMENTS OVER WINDOWS AND DOOR. NARROW PILASTERS.

2007-
resurveyed, appearance unchanged.
Bibliographic References:Architecture/History Survey. December 2007. Prepared by Mead & Hunt, Inc. Buildings of Wisconsin manuscript.
RECORD LOCATION
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

Have Questions?

If you didn't find the record you were looking for, or have other questions about historic preservation, please email us and we can help:

If you have an update, correction, or addition to a record, please include this in your message:

  • AHI number
  • Information to be added or changed
  • Source information

Note: When providing a historical fact, such as the story of a historic event or the name of an architect, be sure to list your sources. We will only create or update a property record if we can verify a submission is factual and accurate.

How to Cite

For the purposes of a bibliography entry or footnote, follow this model:

Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory Citation
Wisconsin Historical Society, Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, "Historic Name", "Town", "County", "State", "Reference Number".