Click on photos to enlarge.

In 1868 Elhanen Winchester (Chet) Bennett sold for $14 to a small group of Catholics of Clintonville about two acres of land on what is now Seventh Street for a church building site. It is considered Mr. Bennett donated the land to the parish because he paid $22 an acre when he purchased the land in 1857. The $14 was probably the cost of the deed. On this partial of land now stands the present church building and the rectory and parish offices. Prior to priest regularly coming to the Clintonville community to conduct services, the Catholics met in the home of one of their members for private worship. The rosary was prayed, and the epistle and gospel, from the respective Sunday was read and reflected upon.


Shown above is the school built in 1904 and the church built in 1893.The second rectory of the parish, shown on the far left, is under construction.

As Early as 1870, the pastors of Most Precious Blood Parish in New London and later Lebanon came to Clintonville to conduct religious services, which were held in private homes. The parish at that time was called St. John Congregation. There is evidence the first mass was probably celebrated in Clintonville on March 15, 1871. It was on this date Seraphrin Kleinkopf, son of Louis and Bridget Kleinkopf, was baptized, according to the Baptismal records of Most Precious Blood Parish of New London.

In 1874 there were 13 families registered in the parish.

In the summer of 1875 the congregation build the first church building on the site approximately where the current rectory is now. The church is described as being 25 by 40 feet, about 1/8 the size of the present church building. The sidewalls were 12 feet tall, made of clap board with three windows on each side. A square tower rose slightly above the ridge of the roof. The cost of the building was $2,000. There is evidence that parishioners donated timbers used in the church construction. The new church was named St. Rose of Lima, dedicated to the first canonized saint in America. One year later the parish built a balcony to accommodate the growing number of worshipers.

The later part of the 19 century the Christian community was flourishing in Clintonville. There were many congregations organizing and building churches. The year St. Rose Parish built its first church (1875), St. Martin Lutheran Congregation, organized just one year before, built its first church and school. Also in that year the Congregationalist of Clintonville were organizing with 27 families and in 1885 built a church which is still used today. The Methodist Episcopal Congregation build a church in 1876, the Salem Evangelical Congregation in 1882 and the Seventh Day Adventist, also in 1882. Christus Lutheran Church was organized in the summer of 1888. The Bethany Congregation of Clintonville was organized with 18 members, in 1893, as the Scandinavian Free Church.
The first resident priest came to Clintonville in 1881, with the arrival of Father Peter Lochman. To date, there have been a number of resident priests who have served the parish as pastors or associate pastors. (Click here for a list of pastors.) That same year (1881) the parish purchased three lots on the corner of what is now 7th and Auto Streets for $500. (At the time there was no Auto Street.) A boarding house on the corner lot was converted into a rectory. Also on the lots, at the time of purchase, stood a small stable and a barn. The stable was sold and moved off of the grounds and the 24 by 35 foot barn was rebuilt into a school and convent. The school and convent stood approximately where the present day school stands. Upon completion of the building, the newly organized Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity were engaged to teach school which opened in the fall of 1883. The same order of nuns taught a St. Rose School until 1994.
With the completion of the Milwaukee Lake Shore and Western Railroad, The Catholic Directory of 1883 lists the following as missions of Clintonville: Bear Creek, Marion, Tigerton, Antigo, Eagle River, and Rhinelander. Father John Seubert, pastor at that time, "spent himself in the care of these infant communities."

In 1882 a 400 pound bell was added to the church tower. That bell is now hanging in the present tower, along with a 900 pound bell, purchased in 1932.

The small framed church could not accommodate all the people. On New Year's day 1893, a parish meeting was held. The parishioners enthusiastically supported the building of a new church. That same meeting a building committee was elected. By the end of February, The Clintonville Tribune reported $4,000 had been raised. Members of the parish living on nearby farms donated field stone for the new church's foundation.

On March 19, it was decided that the original plans were too ambitious, based on plans received in February from the Chicago Architect, estimating at a cost of $8,000. After some discussion the drawings were changed so that the complete measurements would be 100 by 45 foot, with walls 23 feet high and a tower of about 120 feet. The five windows on each side and the three in front in the original sketch were not changed, but instead of having a special wing for the sacristies, the sanctuary was made smaller and the space saved was used for sacristies. These changes were made so that the parish would be left with a debt of not more than $1,500. The motion made by Bernard Schemmer and seconded by Math Alft. The motion was carried. By June 7 the foundation was ready for the laying of the cornerstone.

In November 1893, the parish purchased three acres of land from the City of Clintonville for $300. The land is used to this day for the parish cemetery. Previously, the cemetery was located on the church grounds, east of the present day rectory and parish offices and later south of the present church and rectory. With the construction of the (1893) church, it was necessary to remove a line of graves lying beneath the west wall of the church. Although some burials still were made after 1893 on the old burial ground south of the church, the practice gradually ceased and the bodies lying in the old cemetery were disinterred and reinterred in the new cemetery, according to Father Nicholas Diedrich's book, A History of Clintonville.
The church was completed that year (1893) at a cost of $13,000. The Christmas midnight Mass was the first Mass celebrated in the new church. The church was blessed in May of the following year by Bishop Mesomer.

 

The photo on the left was taken probably during the late 1890's. In the background, to the far right, is the first St. Rose Church, built in 1875. It was later used as the parish school, until 1904. To the left of the church, built in 1893, is the first rectory (formally a boarding house). It was located what would be now on the corner of Seventh and Auto Streets. In the foreground are the school children with two nuns from the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. The parish priest is Father Schmitz (1892 to 1893 and 1896 to 1899) or Father Hugenroth (1893 to 1896).

The old church was converted to a school. However it burned in February 1904. That same year a new 2 1/2 story, four-room school, was built, at a cost of $5,000, where the rectory and parish offices now stand. While the new school was under construction, the school was again moved back into the convent. The school was completed by the start of the school year, 1904.

In February 1906 the parish decided the old rectory, which was originally a boarding house, was too poor a shape to be remodeled once again. By the fall of 1906, a new rectory was ready for occupancy. It was built at a cost of $3,112. That rectory served the parish until 1995, when it was torn down.

 

Interior of the church built in 1893.  The statues of Mary and Joseph have been refurbished and are now in the present day church.

From Left to right: the rectory (built in 1906), church, and school, (built in 1904).

In 1951 a new parish school was completed on its present site at a cost of $151,000. In 1958 the school's gymnasium was renovated to add more classrooms. In 1962 a convent was built which now serves as a residence. 

The start to built a church building project was in the summer of 1988 when parishioners participated in meetings to identify the building needs of the parish. Committees were appointed to study renovation and building possibilities. Three options were presented to the Parish:
1. Repair the old church building;
2. Repair, remodel and add space to the old church;
3. Build a new church.

On the weekend of October 31, 1992, parishioners voted on the three options and decided to build a new church.

Fund raising and building committees were formed. A fund-raiser and liturgical arts consulted were engaged, as well as an architect selected. In July 1993, several members of the building committee visited several recently constructed Chicago area churches to study the latest trends in modern church design. An office wing was originally planned, but was eliminated to keep costs within budget.
The last Mass celebrated in the 1893 church was on May 26, 1996. The demolition of the church and construction began soon after. It was dedicated April 26, 1997 by Bishop Robert Banks, Bishop of Green Bay.

Razing the 1893 church
Building the new one, 1996-1997

 

Resident Priest who served St. Rose Parish

 

To

From

 

Fr. Clement Duerr

1870's

 

From New London

Fr. Henry Anen

1875

 

From Lebenon

Fr. Peter J. Lockman

July 6, 1881

Sept. 1, 1883

First Resident Pastor

Fr. John Seubert

Sept. 1, 1883

1887

Pastor

Fr. Francis X. Scholz

1887

 

Pastor

Fr. Norbert Wilkelm

 

July 3, 1887

Pastor

Fr. Arthur Belle

July 3, 1887

Dec. 8, 1892

Pastor

Fr. Peter Schmitz

Dec. 8, 1892
July 28, 1896

Jan. 1, 1893
Oct. 1899

Pastor

Fr. Bernard Hugenroth

Jan. 1, 1893

July 28, 1896

Pastor

Fr. Aloysius Bastian

October 1899

May 4, 1912

Pastor

Fr. John J. Loerke

May 4, 1912

Sept. 4, 1921

Pastor

Fr. Henry Kuhl

Sept. 4, 1921

July 1, 1923

Pastor

Fr. Michael Gonnering

July 1, 1923

Oct. 1, 1926

Pastor

Fr. Nicholas D. Diedrich

Oct. 1, 1926

March 5, 1947

Pastor (Longest Tenure)

Fr. Peter A. Salm

March 5, 1947

Jan. 25, 1955

Pastor

Fr. Mark Schmitt

June 1948

 

Associate Pastor

Fr. Paul Van Norman

Sept. 28, 1954

 

Associate Pastor

Fr. John J. Murphy

Jan. 25, 1955

Sept. 1, 1963

Pastor

Fr. John Feeney

June 16, 1955

 

Associate Pastor

Fr. Jaroslav Polc

March 14, 1956

 

Associate Pastor

Fr. Robert Fellenz

June 20, 1958

 

Associate Pastor

Fr. Thaddeus Koszarek

Sept. 1, 1963

Sept. 1968

Pastor

Fr. David Kasperk

June 4, 1963

Dec. 12, 1963

Associate Pastor

Fr. James Hablewitz

June 3, 1967

 

Associate Pastor

Fr. Robert Sladek

Sept. 1968

March 1972

Pastor

Fr. Aloysius Knier

March 1972

Aug. 20, 1975

Pastor

Fr. Charles Shebuski

Aug. 20, 1975

Dec. 14, 1987

Pastor

Fr. James Johnson

Dec. 14, 1987

Feb. 7, 1988

Administrator

Fr. David Koch

Feb. 15, 1988

April 30, 1991

Pastor

Fr. Dennis Bergsbaken

April 30, 1991

July 10, 1991

Administrator

Msgr. Mark J. Schommer

July 10, 1991

March 31, 2002

Pastor

Fr. Donald Everts

May 1, 2002

2006

Administrator

Fr. Terry LaCombe

2006

2007

Pastor

 

 

 


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