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Calvary Baptist Church

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1969, William Wenzler. 2959 N. Teutonia Ave.
  • (Photograph by Paul J. Jakubovich, courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society)

This strikingly modern church maintains a tradition of buildings designed to reflect their congregants’ ethnicity. Wenzler drew on the building traditions of Cameroon in west-central Africa for this well-established African American congregation; hence the low, irregular shape with tent-like roofs and uneven wall heights. The church’s two buildings huddle together, as if to resemble a small village or a traditional clan compound. The gently spreading roof forms low peaks, sheltering the walls with gracefully sweeping eaves. Solid brick walls evoke the lashed bamboo found in Cameroon, and shingles stand in for a thick-woven grass roof. Inside, the plank-and-beam ceiling recalls the bracing long used in Cameroon. Calvary, the city’s oldest African American Baptist congregation, began in the 1890s as Mt. Olive Baptist Church. It assumed its present name in 1913.

Writing Credits

Marsha Weisiger et al.


What's Nearby


Marsha Weisiger et al., "Calvary Baptist Church", [Milwaukee, 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, 129-129.

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