37. St. Casimir Catholic, 1899

Now Our Lady of Divine Providence Catholic
2600 North Bremen Street (at Clarke Street)
Architects: Erhard Brielmaier and Sons

St. Casimir Catholic

In the later years of the nineteenth century, the Polish immigrant community centered on Brady Street expanded to the north, across the Milwaukee River into the neighborhood now known as Riverwest. By the 1890s, St. Hedwig’s School on Brady Street had reached its capacity, and both the school and church were an inconvenient distance for many of the residents of Riverwest. The Catholic archdiocese responded by establishing St. Casimir Parish in 1893, as a Polish-language daughter of St. Hedwig’s. The river formed the boundary between the two parishes, with those Catholics living in Riverwest joining the new parish of St. Casimir. Within two years of its establishment, the membership of St. Casimir had surpassed that of St. Hedwig’s.

The parish erected a combined church and school building in 1894, which still stands to the immediate east of the present church. Construction of the present church began in 1899 and was completed in the fall of 1901. At that time, the former worship space in the older building became the school gymnasium.

St. Casimir Catholic
St. Casimir Catholic

The church is constructed of Cream City brick, much darkened with age, on a stone foundation. The southwest tower, with its steeple reaching a height of approximately 175 feet from the ground to the top of the cross, is the city’s tallest church steeple north of Walnut Street. The most unusual feature on the exterior is the upper stage of the northwest tower, which is turned 45 degrees relative to the tower’s lower stages. It is the only church tower in Milwaukee of this design.

St. Casimir Catholic
St. Casimir Catholic

Only minor alterations have been made to the exterior since the building’s construction more than 100 years ago. The windows have been covered with a protective layer of clear acrylic material, and some of the original ornamentation has been removed. The four pinnacles at the top of the clock stage of the southwest tower were originally taller, and there were similar pinnacles on the northwest tower and at the ends of the transept gables. There was also an ornate canopy above the statue of St. Casimir near the top of the façade gable.

In 2003, St. Casimir Parish merged with its daughter parish to the north, St. Mary of Czestochowa. The combined parish, Our Lady of Divine Providence, continues to use both churches.

Borun, Thaddeus, ed. We, the Milwaukee Poles. 1946.

Brielmaier, Erhard and Sons, architects. The Work of E. Brielmaier & Sons Co., Architects, Milwaukee: 1865-1930, c. 1930.

Historic Designation Study Report: St. Casimir Church Complex. City of Milwaukee, Department of City Development, n.d.

St. Casimir Church, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Custombook, Inc., 1970.