Old St. Mary's, Milwaukee, WI

Library of Congress
History - Built 1846-1847, rebuilt 1866, most important of several interior renovations in 1893.  Except for a small wooden chapel, this is the oldest church in Milwaukee.

Architectural character: Classically inspired composition with lofty bell-tower and details (heavy projecting pediments etc.) strongly suggestive of German inspiration.

Architect: The architect for the original building is unknown. However, Victor Schulte who v/as the architect for the 1866 rebuilding of the church may also have been the architect for the original building.
I could not find any current pictures to compare against, but they do have a parish website.  So why it is called "Old"?  Is there a new St. Marys?  Has any of the interior survived?

As beautiful as Gothic churches can be, I find a church like this (round = "classical"?) more appealing.


  1. This church is just a couple blocks from me! The interior and exterior are pretty much the same, I can't remember if the altar rail is still there but for the most part, the church wasn't wrecked. It is beautiful in color as well:) I will try to get pictures one of these weekends...

  2. oh yes the altar rail is still there (last I saw) and it actually is built into the confessional (some good symbolism there.)

    Another interesting fact, King Ludwig of Bavaria donated money and artwork towards this Church (and St. Francis Seminary.)

    The older wooden church mentioned in this article is in fact St. Peter's which was at one time our Cathedral. That building had an interesting history (connections to Milwaukee founder Solemon Jueano, being moved around many times and for many uses etc.) It now can be seen at Old World Wisconsin in Eagle and is a great representation of a mid-19th century frontier Catholic Church.

    There was another rather old wooden Church in Milwaukee(maybe it was called St. Joseph's) that I think was destroyed in the 1970s.

  3. Anon: I think you may be referring to the old St. Stephen's Church on S. Howell near the airport. I seem to recall that it and Old St. Mary's were considered two of the oldest churches in Milwaukee. I had been to Mass in both years ago and they were similar inside if memory serves.

  4. I came across this post searching for history of the artwork in the church, and it just so happens that I have some interior pictures from my cousin's wedding rehearsal this past fall...




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