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Looking back over 150 years

St. Martin Lutheran Church in Clintonville is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. Its current building was constructed in 1968. Submitted Photo

St. Martin’s sesquicentennial

By Grace Kirchner

In 1863, a young Lutheran pastor, Rev. P. H. Dicke, Shawano was assigned by the Missouri Synod, to do missionary work in the towns of Larrabee and Bear Creek.

He served the area until 1872, when J. H. Lauirtzen of New London took over the duties.

Many of the pioneers who were clearing the land were Lutheran. By 1874 they thought they had enough members to form a congregation. They organized St. Martin congregation on Oct. 19, 1874.

The 10 known charter members were August Wenzel, Carl Essmann, Fred Pingel, William Gensler, Adam Volkman, John Meisner, Ferdinand Gast, John Kautz, August Kratzke and John Pingel.

In 1875, the congregation built its first church in the area where the present school parking lot is located. The land was donated with the provision that the building must be at least 24 feet high.

A year later a parochial school was started. Church services were held on the lower level and classes were held on the upper level with the pastor as the teacher.

The building was later moved to ll9 Eighth Street where it still stands after being converted into an apartment building.

Growing congregation

By 1887, the congregation had grown considerably and they voted in May to build a new church.

The new church was to be located where the present church stands. The plans called for a building to be 40-by-76 feet, 24 feet tall, with a steeple 120 feet tall. There were to be two bells.

Members of the congregation provided much of the labor. Members who could not provide labor were to pay $1 a day to keep the cost down to about $7,000.

A parsonage was built shortly after and was located next to the church on the west side.

After the new church was built, the old church building continued to serve as a one-room school and later as a two-room school.

By 1914-15 the congregation had grown and the school was over-crowded. The decision was made to build a new school. Property on Eighth and Hemlock Streets was acquired.

The new school was completed in 1916. It had four classrooms, large assembly hall,and a full basement. The cost was $20,000.

In 1952 the school was remodeled and an extension was made along with classrooms, gymnasium, heating plant, library and stage. A modern kitchen was added.

The congregation continued to grow and flourish. There had been several remodeling, redecoration and improvement projects but members soon saw the need for a new church.

New church built

In April 1967, the church that had served the congregation for 77 years was razed along with the parsonage next door and construction of a new church began the next month. In September 1968, a dedication service was held.

A Lutheran church has been offering a Christian education to children from Clintonville and the surrounding communities since 1886. The long tradition of the Lutheran heritage combined with growth and improvements are to keep St. Martin School growing towards excellence in education and ministry.

In the early 1990s a day care was started.

In 2009 a new school – St. Martin Academic Resource Training (SMART) Center was added with 20,000 square feet and 12 classrooms.

There are now 19 teachers and teacher aided instructing 209 students in pre-school through eighth grade. Emily Ferg is the principal
The church and school offices were recently remodeled.

The pastors include Rev. Jason Zobel, Senior Pastor, and Rev. Hayden Lukas, associate pastor.

Worship services are held 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Sundays and 7 p.m. Wednesdays.

“History of Clintonville, Wisconsin” by Nicholas D. Diedrich and John Bittern Gehl, published in 1937, was a major source of information for this article.

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