The story of the faith communities in our city is an important aspect of both the history and sense of place that is La Crosse. The earliest settlers from the mid 19th century and later immigrants from the early 20th century established their identity through building places of worship. Many of these buildings are now well over one hundred years old, and have become an important part of the visual landscape in La Crosse.
This tour called Sacred Spaces includes twenty-three sites. These sites are located in the downtown area and throughout the traditional historic neighborhoods on the north and south sides of the city. The great majority of these churches and chapels were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and show aspects of the Gothic Revival, Romanesque Revival and Classical Revival styles. Two were built in the mid-20th century and show the stylistic influence of Modernism. Also, this tour includes churches designed by important local architects, as well as the work of two nationally recognized architects, S. S. Beman and Edward Schulte.
Nearly one half of all of the sites on this tour are associated with the Roman Catholic community in La Crosse. The fact that La Crosse is home to the Diocese of La Crosse and the long-established Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, accounts for this large representation of Catholic sites. Four of the buildings are current or former Lutheran Churches, representing the next largest faith community in La Crosse. Other Protestant congregations with historic churches on the tour are the Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Universalist and Christian Science communities. Worship space for the Jewish and Orthodox faiths are featured as well. Two of the buildings are non-religious memorials.
Because the Sacred Spaces sites are rather far flung across the city, this tour is best enjoyed by bus, car or bicycle. As you follow this tour in search of the buildings featured here, you may want to take time to appreciate the historic and architecturally significant buildings featured on some of the other Footsteps of La Crosse tours, as well. Enjoy your tour!