St. Alphonsus rectory demolition: A little piece of history demolished

Monday morning, some parishioners gathered to watch the demolition of the old rectory at St. Alphonsus, 6301 344th Avenue. The building, built in 1895, was older than the church. It had survived the previous St. Alphonsus church that burned down after Sunday Mass, January 13, 1907.

This photo from about 1901 show the first church (1851), the second church (1885), and the rectory that was torn down on Monday.

There seems to be a list of reasons for not keeping the building any more. The rectory hasn’t been used for years. The ceiling is falling in. The shingles are coming off and the roof leaks. It’s falling apart. It’s too expensive to repair. Priests don’t stay by the church any more. The church had bought a separate building for visiting priests to stay in.

The space the building occupies will just be landscaped for now.

A little bit of information about St. Alphonsus.

The first Catholic settlers arrived in Wheatland in the 1840’s. They attended services in Burlington or in people’s homes.

Martin Schaefer, who was not part of the new congregation, donated the 2 ½ acres for the church. On the top of the hill, they built a stone church and parsonage.  The church was dedicated in the Fall of 1851. Those buildings were used for the next 50 plus years.

The next church did not last nearly as long. The Rev. J. W. Blum, in 1883 undertook the building of a new Gothic church, 110 x 46 with a steeple 136 feet high. The church was consecrated September 8th, 1885. It burned after Sunday Mass, January 13. 1907.  The first church was used as a concert hall.

In 1895 a new parsonage was built at a cost of $2,000, under the direction of Rev. J.H. Schiefen. It was redecorated in 1926 for the church’s diamond anniversary. This is the building that was torn down.

The first attempt to organize a regular parochial school was made by Rev. J. B. Hasselbaner in 1863. The congregation bought four acres with a dwelling on it from Frank Krift. School was taught by lay teachers until 1872. Rev. N. Zimmer had the first regular school house built. The Sisters of Notre Dame were in charge of it. Father Zimmer also had a frame addition built onto the old stone parsonage.

The current church is Roman design.  It is 49 x 125 feet. It was dedicated June 4, 1908.

1924 a copper and slate roof was added.

1925 a pipe organ purchased for $3,000.

1916 a brick school house was built 72 x 72, with four classrooms.

A sister’s house was built in 1920. It has since been torn down.

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