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St. Mary of the Oaks Plaque
Photographer: William J. Toman
Taken: June 12, 2010
Caption: St. Mary of the Oaks Plaque
Additional Description: When this Chapel was built...Wisconsin had been a state just 9 years and the landscape was being settled by European immigrants. In this area, most immigrants came from Germany, and many had stone masonry skills. This tiny chapel reflects the building methods of German settlers and the simple rural chapels of their homeland.

In 1857, John Endres built this chapel of uncut stone and mortar. To give the building a finished appearance, he scored the mortar on just the front of the building into a block pattern. This building method was common in Germany and became common wherever Germans settled. In addition, the rounded apse is a distinctly Germanic architectural feature that can be seen on early chapels in southeastern Wisconsin. Finally, the chapel's location is reminiscent of hilltop sites of European cathedrals.

This drawing depicts the chapel as it probably looked upon completion. Little has changed. In about 1926, descendants of John Endres covered the original wooden roof with metal and added the fence you see today. They also added a wooden altar, which replaced a simple table and statue. At the same time, the chapel was dedicated and formally named St. Mary of the Oaks. In 1975, Dane County purchased the land and chapel for its historic value. In the early 1980s, the wooden altar was stolen and had to be replaced with a replica.

Thanks to the many volunteers who have maintained this chapel with their labor and generous contributions.
Submitted: June 12, 2010, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin.
Database Locator Identification Number: p112799
File Size: 0.847 Megabytes

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