Original Bishop's House

608 11th St S | Locally Designated 03/21/1996

Historical Summary of Site:

A two-story cubic shaped red brick house was constructed on an elevated foundation. The house is essentially Victorian with a straight sided mansard roof. Segmental arched corner windows trimmed with colonettes protrude from the mansard roof that is ornamented with paired Italianate brackets and dentil trim. Paired and triple long arched windows and the entrance door (now altered) are decorated by moulded hoods accented by keystones. Exhibiting the eclectic nature of architecture of the period of the Bishop's House, transitional between the Italianate and the Second Empire styles, shows the tendency of builders after the Civil War to select ideas from a variety of sources readily available through books and periodicals. Joan Rausch, architectural historian, stated in her August 1984, Historic La Crosse Architectural and Historic Record, that the Bishop's House is the only architecturally significant representative of a fusion between the Italianate and French Second Empire styles left in the City. The Eleventh Street building  became the home of the first La Crosse Catholic Diocese Bishop Michael Heiss in 1878. Bishop Heiss lived in the home until 1880, he then moved to Milwaukee. Bishop Flasch lived in the site until 1891, at that time Bishop John Schwebach moved into the home at 608 South Eleventh Street. La Crosse's third Bishop, John Schwebach lived in the home until 1921. The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration purchased the buildign in 1922 for $15,000.00. After renovations, the residence was used as home for nurses. There were sleeping quarters for 60 nurses, a recreation hall, living room, dining room, parlor and kitchen. The building served many purpose for the Sisters. In 1942, when the school of nursing was erected, the Bishop's House became St. Catherine's Convent; a home for the Franciscan Sisters teaching at Aquinas High School. Viterbo College students and teachers lived in the house form 1852 until student housing was opened in 1957. Sisters working at St. Francis Hospital lived on the site from 1959 to 1963. The building was opened as Siena Hall, a rehabilitation center for psychiatric patients in January of 1967. The psychiatric halfway-house was named after St. Catherine of Siena. A renovation project was undertaken in 1994, by the Franciscan Health System. Renovation began in the Fall of 1995.

Notice of Designation of Historic Structure

Essentially a Victorian house with a straight sided mansard roof, the two-story cubic shaped red brick house was constructed by Joseph Leinfelder on an elevated foundation in 1877 for Bishop Heiss of the Catholic Diocese. Straight sided mansard roof with dentil trim and paired brackets under the eaves; segmental arched dormer windows framed by colonettes; arched, long paired and triple windows with molded stone window hoods with articulated keystones; similar door hood over side lighted entrance with altered entrance door; cast iron balconies visually supported by brackets under the upper story windows. Rear and side gable roofed additions (side structure attached to house appears to be a small chapel). The electric Bishop's House, exhibiting the transition between the Italianate and the Second Empire styles, shows the tendency of builders after the Civil War to select ideas from a variety of sources readily available through books and periodicals, and is the best preserved representative of the Second Empire influence in the city. The bishop's residence illustrates the importance of La Crosse as a center of Catholic institutions.
- (Historical notes from the Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory)