While there is no shortage of landmarks dotting the Downtown skyline, on the South Side there are just a few. So they really stand out. Among them, the twin towers of St. Stanislaus Church, 524 W. Mitchell St., are perhaps the most instantly recognizable. And it's been that way since 1872.continue at On Milwaukee
But, not long ago, the future of the building seemed threatened.
Because of demographics of the neighborhood had changed and the school was closed, many of the faithful moved on; also when they built the highway. That was the decline," says Abbe George Baird, an oblate (member of a monastic community) of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, based at St. Stanislaus.
"That was the start because that was a neighborhood and all of those Poles moved to the suburbs or someplace else. With the loss of the neighborhood, you know that decline and the demographics changed, and so the amount of people coming into St. Stanislaus just slowly decreased."
By 2003, the archdiocese was thinking the unthinkable: putting the church up for sale.
"But the problem," says the oblate, "is how do you sell the oldest Polish church in the country? So, in 2007 archbishop Dolan gave the care of St. Stanislaus to the Institute because there was not an established traditional mass in his archdiocese in communion with Rome. So the institute was asked to come here."
So now, St. Stan's is just about the only place in the area where traditional Latin, pre-Vatican II mass is held. English services draw about 50 parishioners a week, but the Latin mass brings in upwards of 600.
On Milwaukee: Urban spelunking: St. Stanislaus Catholic Church