Renovations begin at St. Katharine Drexel

May 8, 2019

A long-awaited renovation project at St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Beaver Dam has begun as the church seeks more funding.

Renovation work started this week at the Catholic church on Spring Street after hundreds of people pledged $3.5 million to restore and expand the historic building, which the church has called home for almost 120 years. However, there is still a shortfall.

According to the church, bids for the work still came in higher than expected, but the project couldn’t wait. The church will have to borrow money to complete the work, which adds an additional expense, and many of the pledged donations will not start to roll in right away. St. Katharine Drexel’s is looking for an extra $100,000 and set up a GoFundMe page to help reduce the shortfall.

The renovation work has started, with the pews already moved out and bricks from the exterior removed and saved. Rev. Mike Erwin said the renovation process should take 6-7 months.

Services are now located at the church’s parish center, 408 S. Spring St.

“The space is a little bit smaller than the church, but we can hold everyone,” Erwin said. “We have really good air conditioning and a really good sound system. We’ll keep everyone together.”

The planned renovations call to make the church more accessible and to keep the building up so parishioners can use it for years to come. The congregation rejected moving the church further away from downtown Beaver Dam.

The announced proposal includes an 6,500-square-foot addition to the east side of the church with a new entrance, additional bathrooms and a new gathering space that will include a small kitchen. Architecturally, the addition will match the brick and stone of the original structure.

Inside the church, the altar will be moved further inward and the sanctuary will be converted into a chapel. The sanctuary’s arch will be enclosed with a glass wall, with the altar standing in front of it. A baptismal font will be placed at the center of the church, with the pews reconfigured to allow for flow down the center aisle.

Last year, the church announced it had received about $3.15 million in pledges, and people have continued to donate since then. Walsh & Associates, Church Fundraising Specialists, a Minnesota-based fundraising consulting firm, and 150 volunteers assisted the church in raising the money.