St. Mary’s is located just north of Altus village on Pond Creek Mountain and affords a spectacular view of Mount Magazine. This church replaced the smaller wooden building used by the German and Swiss immigrant Catholic congregation. In July 1900, Pastor Placidus Oeschle visited Brother Hadrian at Subiaco Abbey (LO4) to consult with him and obtain plans for a new church. Brother Hadrian gave the pastor dimensions for a church and promised to supply drawings. Masons from St. Louis, a Mr. Reidt and his two sons, were hired, and a fine quality sandstone was cut from a local quarry. The formal plans never arrived, and the masons began work on the building, giving it a basilica plan with a polygonal apse. In style the church is Romanesque Revival with a slight aura of Italian Romanesque. The west facade is composed of a tall gabled central nave with lower side aisles, and the triple-arched entrance is echoed in the triple round-arched window above it. A square bell tower situated beside the apse in the southeast corner of the church rises 120 feet and is topped by a cross. Inside, the tall and wide central nave has a flat ceiling and is separated from the side aisles by a round-arched arcade on cedar columns that are painted to resemble marble. A barrel vault covers the nave, and a triumphal arch leads to the apse. Walls and ceilings were plastered for future painting, and scenes from the life of Christ were completed between 1915 and 1916 by German artist Fridolin Fuchs. Parishioners are said to have served as models for sacred figures in the murals, as did Father Placidus and the artist himself. This richly decorated interior is enhanced by the stained glass windows from the Emil Frei workshop. St. Mary’s is one of the most beautiful and most visited churches in the state.
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St. Mary’s Church (Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church)
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