Milwaukee's landmark Basilica of St. Josaphat will begin construction this week on a $230,000 exterior lighting project, the latest in a series of steps aimed at restoring and enhancing the historic structure on Milwaukee's south side.continue at JS
As part of the project, lights will be installed on the century-old basilica's portico, visitors' pavilion and bell towers, with the ultimate goal — not yet funded — of illuminating its copper-clad dome. Crews began installing scaffolding Monday.
"This building has stood all its life in the dark," said Susan Rabe, president and chief executive officer of the St. Josaphat Basilica Foundation. "This is something that's been needed for a long time."
St. Josaphat, designed by architect Erhard Brielmaier as a scaled-down version of St. Peter's in Rome, was built between 1897 and 1902 with limestone salvaged from the demolished Chicago Post Office and Customs House that was moved north by rail.
It was built initially with the contributions of mostly poor Polish immigrants, some mortgaging their homes to make it happen.
Listed on the National Register of Historic places, it is known for its ornate interior with its Austrian stained-glass windows, murals by Italian and Polish artists and gilded plasterwork.
The basilica has remained a focal point of the south side neighborhood that had been once primarily Polish and now Latino.
I ♡ my basilica!