Octagon House Museum • Hudson Wisconsin

Gothic-Revival Architecture: St. Croix County’s Rare Gems

A steeply pitched roof, arched windows, and decorated bargeboards mark the telltale signs of Gothic Revival architecture. This unique form of architecture was never as popular as the Italianate or Greek Revival styles in St. Croix County, but we do hold some of the most beautiful examples.

Williams SanatoriumGothic architecture is most predominant in churches but the unique style graced many residential homes. According to the website, architecturalsyles.org, Gothic Revival architecture was popular between 1840-1860, but the style persisted throughout churches until the  1940s. The most notable example of residential Gothic Revival architecture in St. Croix County is the Lewis House, located in Hudson. This home was built in approximately 1865 and its woodland cottage appearance feels like it could be straight out of a fairy tale. According to Roger G. Kennedy, a director of the National Park Service and the Smithsonian Natural Museum of American History, “The Lewis house…is the only representative left in the valley of the large Hudson river Gothic tradition” (Houses of the St. Croix Valley). This house is now accurately known as the House of Seven Gables.

The architecture isn’t the only aspect of this property that makes it historically fascinating. Dr. Boyd T. Williams purchased the home in 1930. An article written in the Hudson Star Observer described its location on Laurel Avenue/Third Street as, “nothing more than a rustic wagon trail” (Kuney, Jarell E.). Dr. Williams used the old Gothic Revival home as a cancer sanatorium, his home, and it was home to “an exotic menagerie of wild birds including 60 free-roaming peacocks, an eagle, and numerous mocking birds” (Kuney). Williams continued to make an impact on the town of Hudson while he lived within the beautiful Gothic Revival home on Third Street.

Gothic Revival architecture extended beyond Hudson. St. Croix County holds multiple examples of Gothic architecture in its churches. One example of this architecture in churches is the Rush River Lutheran Church. This beautiful red brick building was founded in 1855 to meet the needs of settlers along the Rush River. According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, this church is a great example of Gothic architecture due to its pointed arch windows, and “square tower with multiple dormers around [the] steeple.” The Rush River Lutheran Church wrote on their website that, “New church buildings were built at Rush River over the years to meet the needs of a growing congregation. The cornerstone of our present church building reads 1897 and was built to replace a building that was struck by lightning and burned to the ground.” The church has received numerous additions throughout the years, but the historical and architectural qualities of the building remain intact.

Another example of Gothic architecture in St. Croix County is the First Lutheran Church located in New Richmond. The original church, established in 1891, was then called the First English Lutheran Church. According to the First Lutheran Church‘s website, this name was given to the church because, “the services were spoken in English rather than Swedish” while its sister church, The First Norwegian Lutheran Church, spoke only Swedish. First Lutheran had many of the telltale architectural qualities of the Gothic style including the pointed arches and a steeply pitched roof.

There are several other churches in St. Croix County, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society, that are also inspired by the Gothic Revival architecture. A few are listed below:

  • St. Patrick’s Church/St. Bridget’s Church, Stanton
  • Wilson Lutheran Church, Cady
  • Kinnickinnic Church, Kinnickinnic

While Gothic Revival may not have been the most popular style in St. Croix County, numerous examples of this unique, pitched, and high-reaching architecture still dot our landscape.

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