Our Lady of Lourdes, which sits perched on a hill high above the St. Anthony Falls, was originally built as a Universalist church in 1857 when that side of the river was still the village of St. Anthony. Constructed out of local Platteville limestone, the church was originally designed in a simple neoclassical plan. In 1877, it was purchased by the French-Canadian Catholics who converted it to a French Gothic Revival structure.
In 2005, Our Lady of Lourdes retained Miller Dunwiddie Architecture to assess the existing conditions and develop a master plan to address them as the structure neared its 150thanniversary. The project proceeded in several phases over the last six years to address needed maintenance and meet the congregation’s changing needs. Work has included infrastructure upgrades; remodeling of the lower level to add a kitchen and handicapped-accessible restrooms; exterior restoration; stabilization of the bell tower; and renovation of the church interior, including plaster repair, lighting, finishes, and plan updates to maximize seating.
The renovation of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church is an excellent example of an institution that is preserving both its historic building and its cultural heritage. The building has a long history of adaptation, from its initial beginnings as a different denomination and architectural style, through many additions and interior remodeling projects. The congregation has maintained a strong sense of its history and ties to its French-Canadian heritage, such as French architectural elements and decoration in the church. This has not been easy, but instead of seeing these things as barriers, the church has embraced them as part of what makes the building particularly special.
Owner: Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church; Architecture, Historic Preservation, & Interior Design: Miller Dunwiddie Architecture, Inc.; Structural Engineers: Meyer Borgman Johnson; Mechanical & Electrical Engineers, Lighting Design: Michaud Cooley Erickson; General Contractor: McGough Construction; Civil Engineering and Landscape Architecture: SRF Consulting Group; Materials Testing: American Engineering Testing; Surveying: C.E. Coulter & Associates, Inc.; Roofing Consultant: Roof Spec Inc.; Decorative Finishes Consulting: Conrad Schmidt Studios; Stained Glass Consulting/Rehabilitation: Gaytee Stained Glass