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Our History

Old School photo 1910.jpg

 “Pupils and Class of 1910”


  • Father Joseph Heder, served St. Mary from 1896 to 1915. Under his direction the parish built a school in 1904, and the rectory in 1915. The sister's convent was built circa 1916.  It housed the Sisters of St. Agnes, who staffed the school at that time, and continued to staff it until 1978.

  • Father Spiegelhoff was succeeded by Father Joseph Brasky who only served briefly.  Then Father Oliver Zinnen, a former Navy chaplain, gave 17 years of service to the parish.  During Father Zinnen's pastorate, the present St. Mary's School was built to accommodate the day school and the CCD program.  The building consists of 8 classrooms, gym and kitchen.  Also a large area for a children's playground was provided.  During this time Father John Rausch was an associate pastor with Father Brasky, and Father Edward Vogel assisted Father Zinnen; each for a short period of two years.  Father Robert Glisch and Father Robert Maney also assisted Father Zinnen for short periods of time.

  • In the fall of 1998 St. Mary’s School, which then had eight grades housed in eight classrooms, opened a campus at St. Andrew, LeRoy.  St. Andrew’s campus housed the Day Care, Pre-School, Kindergarten programs, along with the first and second grades. The other grades remain at the Mayville campus, freeing up two rooms for use as a computer lab and a room for art and music programs.  The St. Andrew's campus closed in the fall of 2009.

  • In the summer of 2009, renovations were made to St. Mary's School to accommodate the move of the Day Care - 2nd Grade from LeRoy to Mayville.  All classes are now held in Mayville.

Old school photo undated original school.jpg

According to Homer Bishop Hubbell in his 1913 history of Dodge County (Dodge County Wisconsin Past and Present), the first parish school was organized in 1868, and by 1870 the school was housed in a building in the second ward (the area of the city east of the river). The school was in operation until 1875, having three teachers during that time, including Dr. G. H. Balg.

On August 2, 1896 Rev. W.J. Heder arrived in Mayville to begin a pastorate that would extend to 1915. By all accounts he was a zealous and energetic man, well-liked by his parishioners and by other local citizens. During Fr. Heder’s tenure, the church was remodeled, a pipe organ installed, the cemetery improved, a school built in 1904 and a rectory constructed in 1915. The sister’s convent was built circa 1916.  It housed the Sisters of St. Agnes, who staffed the school at that time, and continued to staff it until 1978. During this time the mission church of St. Malachy, Horicon, was also cared for at regular intervals by Father Heder.

The Second School

A piece of land north of Naber Street was purchased in October 1903. The following year construction of the school was begun and the cornerstone laid on the midsummer. The July 5, 1904 Dodge County Pionier called the ceremonies “impressive.” The main speaker was J.M. Kasel, a professor at St. Francis Seminary, and “a large crowd of people… listened to the orations and musical program.” Festivities included a procession around the city featuring the uniformed Knights of St. George’s Catholic Church of Milwaukee and members of Catholic societies of Mayville and surrounding communities.

Even more impressive were the dedication festivities, which began the evening before Thanksgiving in 1904 with the arrival by train of Archbishop Messmer and a number of clergymen from Milwaukee. They were met by Rev. Heder an St. Mary’s trustees, Andrew Bachhuber and L.S. Keeley, accompanied by men of the congregation and the Mayville Cornet Band. The archbishop and clergymen were escorted to waiting carriages for the journey from the depot (at the corner of Dayton and Fremont, now N. Walnut, Streets) to the church. The men and the band marched in parade, escorting the carriages.

Members of the congregation had assembled at the church, ready for the blessing by the archbishop, preceded by a processional sung the choir. After the welcoming ceremony, the archbishop and visiting clergy retired to the rectory.

Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, was bright and clear. Delegations of Catholic Knights from neighboring cities gathered at the hall of the local Catholic Knights, and from there marched through Main Street to church, led by the band.

Awaiting the marchers were the Archbishop, the clergy, and children of the congregation. All proceeded to the school where the clergy changed “Veni Creator Spiritus” (Come Holy Spirit), and the Archbishop pronounced a blessing upon the building and all who shall be instructed within its walls. The parade then marched back to the church for a solemn High Mass, which included sermons in German and in English. After Mass, the ladies of the congregation served Thanksgiving dinner in the school rooms.

The Sisters of St. Agnes, with a motherhouse in Fond du Lac, staffed the new school from the beginning. It appears that in the early years, two Sisters were engaged to teach the eight grades. They may have been housed on the upper level of the of two-story school. Eventually and convent was built southeast of the school building, perhaps in 1916, to house the school staff.

The Third School

St. Mary’s School had just 125 students enrolled in 1946. Just twelve years later in 1958, during Fr. Zinnen’s tenure, students numbered more than 200. Because of lack of classroom space, first and second graders were attending school only half days. A decision was made to build a new school. The site chosen was just to the east of the existing school, and by spring of 1959, parishioners were busy removing trees in preparation for construction. The building was not ready for occupancy at the start of the school year, but in January 1960, in the midst of blowing snow, the 222 pupils moved their belongings from the old school to the new. The old school was dismantled in March. 

Dedication of the school took place on Sunday evening, May 22. Fifteen guests, including Archbishop William E. Cousins, were served dinner at 6:30 p.m. After dinner, there was a procession from the rectory to the school, where a dedication and blessing by the archbishop took place. The ceremony included the blessing of a large crucifix with a hard-carved corpus from Oberammergau. The dedication was followed by a procession to the church, where the archbishop gave a sermon and presided over Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Afterwards Archbishop Cousins greeted parishioners at the front of the church.


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