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Ecclesia St. Bonaventure
This relatively isolated church complex, consisting of the church, rectory, parish hall, cemetery, and orchard, is nestled in a valley surrounded by a vast agricultural landscape. The large church, which can accommodate 600 parishioners, dominates the tiny hamlet of approximately two dozen residents. Its 100-foot towers are visible for miles. The striking disparity between the capacity of the church and the sparsely inhabited rural community reflects the depopulation of the countryside during the twentieth century.
The Romanesque Revival church is of brick construction and laid out on a cruciform plan; it features semicircular arched openings for doors and windows, and the round arch corbelling repeats at the top of the gables, over the front entrances, and on the towers. The latter are lavishly detailed with corner buttresses, single and multiple arch openings, and are capped with dentil cornices, pediments, and pyramidal-shaped steeples. The highly decorated interior consists of groin vaulting over the central nave and side aisles, much of it covered with delicate stencil designs. Other prominent features include twenty-one large stained glass windows created by the Emil Frei Studio of St. Louis. The subject of each window is identified in German, the native language of the community.
The nearby two-and-one-half-story frame rectory was built in the neoclassical style with emphasis on formal arrangement of plan and facades and use of classical ornament. The dominant feature of the front facade is a full-height entry porch with a classical pediment and gable roof supported by six columns with Corinthian capitals. The parochial school has been removed.
Gilkerson, Joni, “Ecclesia St. Bonaventure,” Boone County, Nebraska. National Register of Historic Places Inventory–Nomination Form, 1982. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, DC.
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