Monday, December 24, 2012

Calvary Cemetery - Milwaukee, WI

Calvary Cemetery is the oldest existing Roman Catholic cemetery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with burials beginning as early as 1857. The cemetery is the final resting place for many of the city's early influential figures - from Solomon Juneau, the co-founder of the city of Milwaukee and its first mayor, as well as Captain Frederick Miller, the founder of Miller Brewing Company.

Calvary Cemetery contains a monument dedicated to the approximately 430 people who died with the sinking of the Lady Elgin on Lake Michigan in 1860. Most of those lost in the tragedy were from Milwaukee's Third Ward Irish community and is the second greatest loss of life seen on the Great Lakes.

Chapel Hill (originally Jesuit Hill) is one of the highest points in Milwaukee. It is used as a burial site for clergy and members of the various religious orders. Many of the city's early catholic churches such as the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Old St. Mary's and St. Gall's (now Gesu Church) also utilize cemetery grounds. A large Calvary cross stood at the peak until it was replaced with the chapel.

The chapel was built in 1899 using Cream City brick and decorated with stone trim. An arched portico with limestone columns and a rose window set the entrance while three hemispherical apses flank the other three sides. It is crowned by an octagonal tower with a peaked roof and clerestory windows. Dedicated on All Souls Day in 1902, the chapel held mass on Memorial Day and All Souls Day until 1950, when the building's deteriorating condition made this impractical.

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