Basilica of St. Josaphat Album, 1928


The parish of the Basilica of St. Josaphat was founded in 1888. With the growing size of the Polish community located on Milwaukee’s south side, Father Wilhelm Grutza hired architect Erhard Brielmaier to design a new structure with a large seating capacity. Brielmaier modeled his design after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and presented his blueprints for it in 1896. Grutza and his parishioners worked continually on the project for years, both on raising funds for the construction and providing the actual labor. In an effort to save money, Grutza purchased materials from the U.S. Post Office and Customs House in Chicago that was being torn down and had them shipped to Milwaukee. On 21 July 1901, the new church was dedicated before 4000 worshippers. It became the largest church in Milwaukee at the time and features one of the largest copper domes in the world. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.