Back to Sacred Heart

Last week’s column focused on a home that may have been the living quarters for some of the priests who were part of the old Sacred Heart Military Academy on West Main Street, now the home of Maranatha Baptist University.

The home is located at 103 Fremont St. and local historian Ken Riedl had been told the home at one time was used as a monastery, but between his research and some of mine, we couldn’t come up with any information to support those comments.

I had asked readers if they knew of any connection between the Maranatha campus and this Fremont Street home but didn’t get any responses. That’s interesting by itself because local readers of this column always seems to have some information on the topics at hand.

Still, if the home was at one time a “monastery” or at least a home for priests who taught at the old Sacred Heart, it’s likely this would have taken place more than 100 years ago, leaving no one alive today who would have first hand recollections of that use for the building.

I also started a brief history of Sacred Heart Military Academy as part of last week’s In Times Square column and will continue with that a bit today.

The property was purchased in 1871 and a year later the school opened as the University of Our Lady of the Sacred Cross. Enrollment at the school grew quickly and before long an addition to the building was constructed and in use by 1873.

Well, the college outgrew that addition in just a few years and by 1889 another three-story addition to the building was completed. The dedication took place on Sept. 4 of that year with the Very Rev. William Corby, provincial of Notre Dame University of Indiana and former president of the Watertown college, the celebrant.

Gov. W. D. Hoard, a Fort Atkinson native, was also a speaker at the dedication. He arrived on a Chicago and North Western passenger train, which stopped at the depot on West Main Street, a convenient spot adjacent to the campus.

In 1890, the college purchased a 2¾-acre parcel of land from the Kolinski estate. That land was to the east of the existing property and brought the college property right to the railroad tracks. With that acquisition, another building project was started, consisting of an addition two stories in height and 38 by 62 feet, and a second addition, 18 by 32 feet. A third building, an ice-house, was also part of the project. These projects had a cost of about $10,000.

In 1894, a college gymnasium was authorized and constructed at a cost of about $7,000.

Around the turn of the century of 1900, sports were a big part of Sacred Heart and the various teams played occasionally against Northwestern College, the friendly opponents from the east side of town.

Among those who played baseball for Sacred Heart in 1899 was Addie Joss, who went on to fame in the major leagues. Addie, who was an incredible pitcher, had as his catcher Red Kleinow, who also went to the major leagues.

Over the years this column carried a lot of details on Joss and his career and perhaps we’ll come back to that topic another time.

By the 1950s, a decision was made to convert the college into Sacred Heart Military Academy. That took a major renovation of the existing buildings, but on Sept. 6 the academy was opened as a junior boarding school. The initial enrollment was 50 students, but plans were to accommodate up to 150 when some of the old college space was relocated. Enrollment reached 100 boys by 1960.

The military academy continued to operate until 1968, when a decision was made to close the facility and move the program to Rolling Prairie, Indiana, under the name of Le Mans Academy.

That ended nearly a century of operations by various arms of the Catholic church. The last graduation from the local school took place on May 26, 1968.

The facilities and the 62.5 acres of land were all placed up for sale. In a matter of weeks the entire campus was sold to a group of people led by the late Rev. Dr. B. Myron Cedarholm with the intent to open in September of that year as Maranatha Baptist Bible College.

The college became a reality and today the campus has changed and expanded under the Baptist leadership, which took ownership back in 1968. Today it is a thriving campus.

Another Packer Sunday

Well, our Green Bay Packers took care of business last Sunday when they defeated the Seattle Seahawks and now find themselves just one victory away from playing in the Super Bowl. Their opponent will be the San Francisco 49ers and the game is on the West Coast.

It will be a tough game and like so many others we’ll be glued to the television Sunday evening. It will be a tough game, but if the “A” team shows up we can come out of it with a winner and one more game to be played this season.


Recommended for you

Load comments