Poor old St. Bruno's, Dousman, WI

The old St. Bruno’s Catholic Church (1887.) Clearly too small with its 110 seating capacity (although there are days where the new church has just about that many people at a saturday evening mass.) The church is padlocked and bolted, with no heating or air, although the lights still work. From the outside it looks like a simple roadside chapel, but the inside is still full of life-size statues, a gorgeous rererdo (or retable…not sure of the difference), and simple stained glass that lets in glowing light in late afternoons with an unobstructed view to the west, overlooking the parish cemetery and farm fields.

While two new churches have been built since then, this site sees regularl upkeep and is used during the summer for an outdoor service, and the inside of the old chapel is opened to the public. And if you know someone who has the keys, its open anytime.

See more at API Design

The current St. Bruno's Church is at 226 w ottawa ave, dousman, WI 53118.  Old St. Bruno's is 2.5 miles west of the current church on Highway Z.

Here's what the new church looks like....

I'm actually glad I can't find any interior shots.  Obviously they didn't use any of the original.

Oh no... I found one...


  1. at least the building still exists. In so many places the beautiful old 19th century parishes were destroyed or sold off (sometimes you'd even have a 'merger' and build one sort of ugly mega Church while shuttering 3 or 4 village parishes.) I never understood it. What we did to architecture is almost worse than what happened to the liturgy. Go to a town in France or Spain or Germany and even atheists are usually proud to show you the nearest medieval Church, Gothic, Romanesque, etc. and for a moment, in some small way, people are brought into contact with the glory of God. With the modern American churches, would anyone ever set foot in them who wasn't there for official business?

    BTW I do hear good things about St. Brunos, esp. the young associate pastor.

  2. The New St. Bruno's isn't all that bad. At least they used wood and stone. The older church looks fancy, but is mostly made of plywood and cheap plaster statues that are gaudily painted. Having previously lived in Europe, I'll say tha tpart of the reason they have medieval churchs to show, is because of the superior quality of construction compared with many of our older churches in Wisconsin. And that's not to say they aren't lovely; It's what people with limited resources did to augment their space for the Liturgy.

    1. Agreed on the solid construction comment, but I don't think that can be used to justify any and all architectural decision. Even plaster angels edify the people of God.

  3. St. Bruno's as a community is quite solid. It is the parish that Frs. Luke and Jacob Strand were raised in, in addition to their older brother Vincent, a Jesuit seminarian. The parish's current youth minister will be entering the seminary next year.

    The building can use some work, but something good is going on in the water there!

  4. The stations of the cross in the current church are from the old church, which are realistic statues, not just paintings or numbers on the wall with ambiguous images, along with the bell, which you can ring by hand still.

  5. We love our church! The building itself is simple yet beautiful. The most wonderful part of any parish are the people that make it a parish. We have an outstanding pastor, Father Ralph Gross and a congregation that is made up of the most kind & friendly people you could meet. We are proud of our church, school & all that make St Bruno Parish the perfect place to honor our loving Creator.

  6. What a charming little church! I will definitely have to stop by this one at some point.


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