215 East Front Street

Saint Rose Catholic Church

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Supporting the preservation and appreciation of Perrysburg's historic architectural heritage

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Saint Rose Catholic Church:

 

Any continuing discussion of Perrysburg architecture must include Saint Rose Catholic Church, our own existing version of an English or French Medieval cathedral.

This fine old landmark, built on property acquired in 1865 at Front and Elm Streets and claimed by some to be the first stone church in the Maumee Valley, was begun in 1889 when some 7,000 people were reported to have attended the laying of the cornerstone. In addition to parishioners, a chartered train and the river steamer, Pastime, brought visitors from all around the area. Another overflow crowd attended its dedication in 1893.

The perpendicular-style Gothic Revival structure, designed by John Burkart of Kenton, Ohio, is built of Sandusky blue limestone lined on the interior with some 400,000 bricks hauled here from the east side of Toledo. The foundation is lined with limestone quarried at Lime City. The buttressed walls, capped by pinnacles or turrets, contain tall pointed-arch windows with decorative geometric ornamentation, or tracery, in the arches, and imported leaded stained glass obtained through the firm of Friedrich and Staffins in Detroit.

St. Rose

215 East Front Street

Two small entrances flank the main, each having double wooden doors set under Berea sandstone arches. The square tower supports an octagonal steeple on which is mounted a cross recently renovated. The top of the cross stands 170 feet above ground level. The belfry contains three bells weighing in at  2,800 pounds, 1,400 pounds and 800 pounds. 

In a niche about midway up the front of the tower is a large statue of St. Rose of Lima, patron saint of the church. Executed in Carrara marble by an Italian sculptor and weighing about three tons, the statue was given by the church's Catholic Mutual Benevolent Association and installed in 1909. The local paper reported that some 2,500 people paraded at the dedication. Above the statue are two lancet-shaped louvered belfry windows. The facade also features corbelling in stone beneath the gable, and the later addition of a wide set of stone entrance steps with iron railings flanked by carved stone walls.

Inside, a richly groined, or vaulted, ceiling is divided into three naves. The ceiling was built by the builder of the original Way Library building and frescoed by a Cincinnati artist. The walls of the naves are supported by angle and tower walls. Ornate statuary and paintings also decorate the interior. A large chandelier originally was suspended from the main ceiling. Pews seating 800 people were of red oak and of Gothic design. The church was wired for electricity in 1908 and other renovations were made on the building in 1914 and 1946.

Interestingly, the pipe organ in the church is even older than the building and it is said the be one of the finest in northwest Ohio. It was built by Garrett House of Buffalo, New York, at a cost of $2,000, and was installed in 1892.

It would be difficult to single out specific individuals most responsible for erection of the building, but certainly the pastor at the time, 28-year-old Gustave Rieken who came here newly ordained just a few years earlier, showed remarkably mature management and fund raising skills. Assisting as a building committee were Frank Haas, Timothy Hayes, Valentine Fink, George Spoerl, John Alt and Godfred Schwind. 

The cost (some $30,000) was perhaps greatly reduced by free labor from parishioners and the donation of innumerable interior appointments and ornaments. Even, so the congregation consisted of only about 150 families at the time and was able to pay off the debt in only 11 years.

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