New Old Church in La Crosse

Posted by Scott on May 7, 2015

(written by Megan, Archives staff)

Coming west on Main Street, as the road shifts left at 6th street, you are greeted by the Catholic Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman. This large grey stone building, built in a more modern style, is the second church to occupy this site, and has a long history.

The first Catholic church in La Crosse was St. Mary’s Church and originally was a log structure.



As the church grew, and additional ethnicities settled in La Crosse, a new church was needed. St. Joseph’s was formed from St. Mary’s and the first trustees were elected on January 6, 1863.

Construction was slowed because of the Civil War but the first Cathedral of St. Joseph was dedicated on October 2, 1870.


(St. Joseph, pre-1883)

The bell tower was completed in 1884.


 (St. Joseph, 1887)

The inside of the cathedral was ornate and was updated and enhanced in 1913.


(St. Joseph interior, 1913)


 (St. Joseph interior, 1918, Jubilee 50th anniversary)


The building served long and well but in 1957 plans were made to build a new, larger cathedral. The contract  was signed January 21, 1957. The last service at the old cathedral was September 6, 1959 and razing began September 21, 1959.  Construction began after the old building was gone.


 (1960, photo taken by ironworker from the steeple)

The first mass held at the new cathedral was April 11, 1962 and the building was dedicated May 14, 1962.



Reflecting the modern era in which it was built, the new building had a more modern design, inside and out.