The communities of Independence and Arcadia were largely settled by families from the neighboring towns of Siolkowice and Popielów in Polish Silesia. The first three families—advance scouts—arrived in the early 1860s, and their fellow townspeople followed over the course of the next two decades. Most had owned their own farms in Poland. Each of the new Polish communities quickly received its own Catholic parish, although for a time SS. Peter and Paul was a mission attached to Arcadia’s church. By 1895, however, the Independence parish had grown to more than one thousand people, making it necessary to replace the white frame building of 1875. This brick church was dedicated in 1896, but because the congregation continued to grow, a sizable addition was built twelve years later. SS. Peter and Paul ranked for a time as the largest church in the La Crosse diocese.
The Gothic Revival church sits on a slight rise overlooking Independence and the rich farmland to the north and east. White keystones and buttress copings contrast with red brick walls, while the repetition of Gothic pointed arches, tripartite windows, and trefoils gives cohesion. The most striking element is the tower projecting from the center of the facade, which rises in three stages. Above the entrance portal, a pointed-arched stained glass window leads the eye upward to a rose window and pronounced corbel table, above which is a belfry with a round-arched louvered opening and a clock face on each side. The belfry’s cross-gabled roof serves as a platform for the tower’s ultimate stage, an octagonal spire, ringed at its base with arched windows and gables. Inside, the elaborate vaulted ceiling and pinnacled altars are awe-inspiring.