51. Resurrection Lutheran, 1954

213 East Howard Avenue (east of Howell Avenue)
Architects: Steffen and Kemp

Resurrection Lutheran

Resurrection Lutheran was founded in the second decade of the twentieth century in what was then the Town of Lake. Services were initially held at the Lake Township Hall at Howell and Howard Avenues, just west of the present church where the Tippecanoe branch of the Milwaukee Public Library is now located. Like most of the Milwaukee area’s other Lutheran churches dating to this period and earlier, the founding members were primarily German immigrants and their descendants, and services were originally conducted in German. The congregation soon built a small wooden church on the current property, which served until its replacement by the present church in 1954. The property was annexed to the City of Milwaukee in 1929.

The congregation commissioned the partnership of Ray O. Steffen and Thomas L. Kemp to design its new church. Steffen and Kemp specialized in religious work during the church-building boom of the 1950s and 1960s. From their office in suburban Wauwatosa, the partners designed 11 churches in Milwaukee and a larger number in the city’s burgeoning suburbs. They also designed many churches in cities and small towns across Wisconsin and a few in the neighboring states of Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota. In addition to churches, the firm received commissions for parochial schools and parsonages as well as additions and renovations to older religious buildings. The majority of their work was for Lutheran congregations, but the firm also received commissions from several other Protestant denominations. Most of the firm’s church designs were modern in style, but the partners did a few Colonial Revivals and several picturesque Gothic Revivals in the 1950s.

Rising from the tower of Resurrection Lutheran is a narrow spire, 33 feet in height from the tower roof to the top of the cross. This type of spire, much narrower at its base than the width of the tower from which it rises, is known as a Hertfordshire spike. Among churches built during the Gothic period, it is most often seen in Hertfordshire and adjacent counties in England. Resurrection Lutheran is one of six churches in Milwaukee with Hertfordshire spikes, all built during the later years of the Gothic Revival, from the 1930s to the late 1950s.

Resurrection Lutheran is one of the most modern, or at least the least Gothic, of Milwaukee’s postwar Gothic Revival churches. It has a few Gothic Revival features, such as the pointed-arch window in the tower and the Hertfordshire spike, but the doorways and nave windows are rectangular, without pointed arches. The covered entrance spanning the driveway is a modern feature seen on only one other Gothic Revival church in Milwaukee, also built in the mid-1950s (and also designed by Steffen and Kemp). The Gothic Revival was nearing the end of its long run by this time. There is one other Milwaukee church in the style that dates to 1954 and just six that were built later, all from 1956 to 1958. Steffen and Kemp designed four of these last eight Gothic Revival churches. Most of the 1950s Gothic Revivals are relatively small churches like Resurrection Lutheran, with seating for about 300 worshippers.

Resurrection Lutheran
Resurrection Lutheran

Fifty Years of God’s Blessings, 1913-1963. Resurrection Lutheran Church, 1963.

Steffen and Kemp, architects. Prints of drawings for construction of Resurrection Lutheran Church, dated July 1, 1953. Wisconsin Architectural Archive, Milwaukee Central Library, drawing set 108-76.