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La Crosse County Historical Society discovers, collects, preserves, and shares the history of La Crosse County, Wisconsin.

Archive Record

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Object Name Print
Catalog Number 2015.fic.364d
Description Bishop Schwebach's Residence print
Collection La Crosse County Historical Society Collection
Title Bishop Schwebach's Residence
People Nudd, Chris
Search Terms Bishop Schwebach's Residence
Notes Part of a series of 15 prints by Chris Nudd "La Crosse Scenes".

Text with print:

"The buildings of the Catholic parishes of La Crosse in the late 1800s were entrusted largely to Joseph Leinfelder who not only constructed buildings but also designed his own. Among his works are the older portions of St. Franice Hospital and the adjoining St. Rose Convent, St. Mary's Church, and the former Bishop's house at the southwest corner of 11th and Ferry Streets. Bishop Schwebach's house, built in 1875, follows all the French lines including mansard roof and arched windows. It is the finest example of all of Lenfelder's buildings.

The Rt. Rev. James Schwebach, D.D., bishop of La Crosse, was born at Paten, Grand Duchy of Luxemborg, on Aug. 15, 1847.

He came to America in 1864 where he finished his theological studies at the Ecclesiastical Seminary in Milwaukee. In 1869 he came to La Crosse where he assisted the pastor of St. Mary's Church, preaching in three languages, English, French, and German. By 1870 he was old enough to be oradined a priest and was appointed pastor of St. Mary's Chruch where he officiated for nearly a quarter of a century.

In 1882 he was appointed Vicar General of the Diocese of La Crosse by K.C. Flasch, the successor Bishop Heiss, and at the death of Bishop Flasch in 1891, he was made administrator of the diocese. In the same year, he was elevated to bishop of the diocese. Bishop Schwebach was consecrated in 1892 and in 1895 was made assistant at the papal throne and Roman court by Pope Leo XIII.

In May of 1853 the first Catholic Services in La Crosse were held in the homes of the 25 Catholic families of the county. THe following month $500 was subscribed, and the land secured for building purposes. Lumber firms gave the lumber, and Lt. Gov. Burns donated an acre of land.

The first Catholic church was the original St. Mary's. Rev. William Tappert, a French missionary, was the first resident pastor. Alternate services were held in French and English. By 1863 the membership had increaed to the point that a division was advisable. The French and English remained in St. mary's congregation, and the Germans and Bohemians organized St. Joseph's.

The diocese of La Crosse was formed in 1868 with the Rev. Michael Heiss as the first bishop. During his office the Franciscan Sisters, St. Wenceslaus Church, St. Michael's Orphange, and the bishop's residence on 11th and Ferry Streets were established.

Following Bishop Heiss in office was the Most Rev. Kilian Flasch whose service was cut short by death and the Most Rev. James Schwebach, whose death in 1920 closed a half century service to the diocese as priest and bishop.

In 1874 the second St. Mary's Church was erected. St. Joseph's Cathedral was built in 1869. St. Wenceslaus Church was the third local Catholic parish to be established and included members of Bohemian extraction. It was organized in 1873, the second church erected in 1914.

Holy Cross Church was organized in 1885 for the Poles, and the church and school building dedicated the same year. A new church was built in 1899. In 1887 St. Joseph's congregation was divided, and St. John's parish ont he North Side started.

The former bishop's house now is used by St. Francis Hospital as a rehabilitation center for psychiatric patients."