On May 2, 1999, the congregation from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church boarded a bus and left their
“old” church at the corner of Fourth and Orange streets in downtown Hudson and traveled east on Vine Street to their “new” church at 502 County Road UU. They celebrated the 20th anniversary of that move on Sunday, April 28.
Long time church member Helene Jensen coordinated the festivities and invited everyone to
“bring your memories” to the Sunday observance. She shared newspaper clippings about the decision to build a new church, the planning, the building and the firsts for the congregation.
“The first wedding in the new church was that of Cinders and Steve Pogalz, the first funeral was
for Rick Muenich and the first baptism was for Rachel Kadidlo” she said.
Church member C.R. Hackworthy was general contractor for his construction crew at CON/SPEC Corporation and Don and Judy Kadidlo were on site practically every day as the church went up, she added. The Reverend John Rasmus was Rector. The building was consecrated by the Rt. Rev. Keith Whitmore, Bishop of the Diocese of Eau Claire.
Why was a new church needed and built back in 1999?
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Hudson dates back to 1882, as marked on the old church at 900
Fourth St. A basement was dug out in 1941 and the congregation occupied the original building for another half century. But by the 1990’s, the members faced needed improvements including
handicapped accessibility, an upper story bathroom, a new heating plant and air conditioning that would cost upwards of $1 million. The church members looked at the options and according to Jensen “after much consideration and tons of prayer, we decided to build.”
The site for the new church was 8 acres between County Road UU and Jacobs Lane in the
town of Hudson east of the city. The new facility was 10,000 square feet and cost approximately $1.2 million. According to Jensen, all the original beautiful stained glass windows were moved with only one suffering damage. Other historic furnishings from the old church were moved, including the altar, eagle lectern, baptismal font, pulpit, some of the woodwork and much of the art that adorned the downtown church. All memorials were also considered in the new design. The organ and piano were also moved.
What happened to the old church?
The earliest record of activity by Episcopalians in Hudson is the service on July 7, 1850 (two years after Wisconsin’s statehood) by Reverends James L. Breck, Timothy Wilcoxson and John Austin Merrick. In the brief three-year period of their Associated Missionary, they founded nine churches in the general area of St. Paul. Their work in Hudson must have been fruitful for the Rt. Rev. Jackson Kemper, Missionary Bishop to the Northwest, confirmed two people here during his visit to the Associated Ministry in July 1851. The first baptism was in 1857. In 1858 the first ordination was performed in what is now the Diocese of Eau Claire. The Hudson church building was erected in 1882 at a total cost of $3,000.
St. Paul’s parish move to the township left the downtown building in need of a new owner and S.O.S. Players, a Hudson-based teen acting troupe, stepped up. The group, coordinated by June Erdman, had been specializing in prevention theatre since 1990 and needed a permanent home base. Their inaugural performances of “Teens 2000” were presented on their newly constructed stage in the old church on Jan. 31, 2000. Their Fourth Street Playhouse improvements were led by S.O.S. board member Jason Davis with the help of Dan Dixon, Alfred Yee Litt and others. The building project was due in part to a contribution of $800 by Aid Association for Lutherans.
Tricia Christiansen purchased the old church in 2012 and moved her Christiansen Creative
graphic design studio to the historic structure. She says she’s renovated and updated several areas of the building while keeping the integrity of the original space. According to her website: “Our 5,446 square feet of space has been used for community gatherings, assembly projects, photo shoots and some pretty awesome parties.” She added that nothing in the lower level is a true right angle because it was dug out by hand over 70 years ago by a group of men from the congregation called the Exercise Club.