64. Benediction Lutheran, 1963

5740 North 86th Street (at Fond du Lac Avenue)
Architects: Donald L. Grieb and Associates

Benediction Lutheran
Benediction Lutheran

Benediction Lutheran has one of the most unusual forms of any Milwaukee religious building. Described as “tentlike” in newspaper articles at the time of its construction, the building is hexagonal in plan with the entrance at one of the corners rather than one of the six sides. The building is all roof, clad in metal shingles and rising to a small skylight topped by a spire of steel tubes. The top of the spire is a bit more than 70 feet above the ground.

On the interior, the six steeply pitched ceiling planes are clad in light-colored wood and supported by laminated wood structural members. Two of the six sides have ribbon windows set at an angle beneath the overhanging roof, providing some daylight but very limited views of the outdoors. The skylight is approximately 48 feet above the floor of the worship space.

Donald L. Grieb, the building’s architect, was born in Milwaukee in 1918 and studied architecture at the universities of Illinois and Pennsylvania in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Returning to Milwaukee after World War II, Grieb worked for Eschweiler and Eschweiler and other local firms for several years before establishing his own office in 1952. He is best known for his most daring and original design, the Mitchell Park Domes, built just a few years after Benediction Lutheran.

Established in 1959, Benediction Lutheran was one of several new Lutheran congregations organized after World War II in the city’s rapidly growing northwestern neighborhoods. Construction of the church began in 1963 and was completed the following year. In recent years, many Southeast Asian and African immigrants have moved into the area. In response to this increasing diversity, the church currently holds weekly services for Hmong immigrants from Laos and French-speaking Africans, in addition to an English-language service and a monthly service in German.

Benediction Lutheran Church website at

“Dedicate 6 Sided Church,” Milwaukee Sentinel, February 8, 1964, part 1, page 9, column 2.

Grieb, Donald L. and Associates, architects. Drawings for construction of Benediction Lutheran Church, dated April 5, 1963. Wisconsin Architectural Archive, Milwaukee Central Library, drawing set 312-32.

“’Tentlike’ Church for Benediction,” Milwaukee Sentinel, March 9, 1963, part 1, page 9, column 4.