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St. Wenceslaus Roman Catholic Church (Island Church)

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c. 1863. Blue Joint Rd. at Island Church Rd.

St. Wenceslaus is a rare example of the log churches that immigrants built in the early years of Wisconsin’s settlement. Immigrants from Bohemia and present-day Germany who farmed the “islands” (high ground) of Blue Joint Marsh built this small gabled building of tamarack logs. Within a few years, they weatherproofed the exterior with board-and-batten cladding, perhaps adding the square two-stage belfry at that time. The church is plain outside and inside. On the interior, the logs remain apparent through a half-inch coating of lime plaster. John Fiedler, a local craftsman, built the pine pews, cutting them with a foliated profile. The only embellishments that relieve the austerity of the interior space are the artwork over the simple altar, including the image of St. Wenceslaus, patron of Bohemia. Wrought-iron candleholders under each station of the cross remind us that candles and oil lamps once provided the only sources of illumination, and a small iron stove with its extended stovepipe, standing in the aisle, gave the only heat. Regular services ceased in 1891, when the parishioners joined St. Joseph’s congregation in Waterloo.

Writing Credits

Marsha Weisiger et al.


What's Nearby


Marsha Weisiger et al., "St. Wenceslaus Roman Catholic Church (Island Church)", [Waterloo, Wisconsin], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Wisconsin

Buildings of Wisconsin, Marsha Weisiger and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017, 248-248.

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