The story of this cathedral shows how easily an architect’s labors can be forgotten. For many years, tradition held that Francis Krautbauer, the popular second bishop of Green Bay, designed this imposing brick cathedral. The designer was probably Adolphus Druiding, a German-born architect based in St. Louis. Druiding, who had emigrated from Hannover after studying at the academies of Berlin and Munich, received the cathedral commission from Krautbauer’s predecessor, Bishop Joseph Melcher, in 1873. When Krautbauer sought funding from the Ludwig Mission Society of Munich, however, he submitted his own woodcut in place of Druiding’s design, to which he added spires in imitation of those of Munich’s Ludwigskirche. As Krautbauer’s reputation grew in the years after his death, public memory credited him not only with fundraising and supervising construction, but also with designing the building.
The building’s domed towers differ from Druiding’s original drawings and from Krautbauer’s sketch. When the bishop consecrated the cathedral in 1881, the towers stood only as high as the louvered belfries. Not until 1904 did new funds allow completion of the clock-faced cross gables that Druiding had designed, though in place of his pyramidal spires tall domed cupolas were added. The cruciform Romanesque Revival church features arched corbel tables and pairs of narrow arched windows set in round-arched openings. One of the cathedral’s three rose windows dominates the main facade. The entrance originally featured a round arch springing from classical columns, crowned with a gabled pediment. The narthex that now fronts the entrance is a later addition. Inside, the nave and aisles are separated by arcades of marble-faced columns, which carry the rib-vaulted ceiling. Josef Albrecht of Munich painted the Eight Beatitudes on the nave’s walls, and Johann Schmitt, whose work is also at the Vatican, created the mural of the Crucifixion. The stained glass windows came from Innsbruck, Austria.
The cathedral complex includes the rectory (1870; 139 S. Madison Street), built for Bishop Melcher. The two-story rectory has a mansard roof with arched dormers, a bracketed, paneled frieze at the roofline, and stone quoins at the corners of the brick walls. In 1938, the diocese commissioned the two-story, stone Catholic Diocese Office Building at 131 S. Madison. The Georgian Revival building has a hipped roof, and a broken pediment with a cartouche at its apex crowns the entrance.