[Built in 1874, Assumption Church is] St. Paul’s oldest functioning church structure and a nationally significant example of the nineteenth-century revival style variously known as Romanesque, Lombard, or even the “Round Style.” Built of the gray, heavily stratified Platteville limestone that underlies much of the downtown, Assumption seems to have been in the city forever, its distinctive multistage towers poking up in old photographs that otherwise depict nothing but long-vanished buildings. Assumption parish is even older than the church, dating to 1854, when St. Paul’s German settlers, many tracing their roots to Catholic Bavaria, persuaded the diocese that they needed a church of their own. The first church was finished in 1856 but proved too small. By 1869, the parish was ready to begin building the present church, using plans that came directly from the Old Country via a Munich architect named Eduard Riedel. He modeled Assumption on Munich’s Ludwigskirche (1844), which had twin towers and was inspired by the Romanesque architecture of the early Middle Ages. Assumption, however, is far more austere than the Munich church. Inside, Assumption features vaulted ceilings presiding over a three-aisled basilican plan that includes the usual complement of statuary and stained glass. The wooden cross to the left of the altar is particularly intriguing. It was dug up in 1955 by children playing on a vacant lot near the State Capitol. Detective work revealed that the cross, dating to 1871, had been discarded by a parish trustee after he’d made a copy of it. Suitable enough, the cross was resurrected on Good Friday and returned to the church in time for Easter.

Predating Assumption Church is [a] small stone building. Italianate in style and originally home to Assumption School. Assumption School was built 1861-1864.

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