St. Mary's of the Lake Catholic Church, Westport, WI

Photos from 1948, courtesy of Wisconsin Historical Society:
And then I found that St Mary's of the Lake had their 1966 centenial parish directory available online.  Great idea!  But we find this tragic story.
Sunday, July 8, 1951 -- a bolt of lightning in a fierce early morning storm -- and the cherished little home of God was reduced to ashes.  All day and into the next, the fire smoldered -- like a gasping organism unable to die.  All day heavy gray clouds rained down their sorrow onto the glowing embers, joining the warm tears of the parishioners who realized the end of an epoch, the severance with the historic past.
And... a story in pictures....

Exterior today....
Where's that lightning when you need it?

I am struck by when these changes happened(as I've found in my other research as well).  This style is not the result of the Vatican II Council as some often propose, it is the result of the culture within the Church decades before the council even began.  Vatican II didn't happen in a vacuum.  The reality is that there was a crappy liturgical movement present far before the council from which we finally in our time have hopes of recovering.


  1. The fitting dress of the faithful standing outside the church in the first picture seems linked to the sacredness and beauty of the architecture and design of the church at that time. Likewise, the often unfitting dress of the faithful today seems linked to the irreverent and banal architecture and design of churches of our time. As you wrote, the irreverence and banality spring forth not necessarily from the Second Vatican Council, but from the soil of culture that has been deteriorating to nearly the point of infertility since prior to the Second Vatican Council.

  2. I can think a few church buildings that a bolt of lighting would do wonders fore. I guess someone didn't want to rebuild the new building to inspire sacredness to the faithful while they were in there.

  3. God save us. Was in this church once. No comment what I learned.

  4. we lived nearby, about 3 miles away and although I was very young, I vividly recall the highly stylized cross! I recall my older brother went to a parochial school in the area. Does anyone know if St. Mary's had an elementary school back in the early 60's?


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