Friday, October 16, 2009

The Other Modern: Christ the King, La Crosse

Photo by Br. Stephen, O. Cist.

It appears I am not the only person to design a seminary chapel dedicated to Our Lord's kingship in La Crosse, Wisconsin. (For those of you entering this in progress, my thesis project was a hypothetical American seminary for our friends over at the Institute, sited on a very real location east of the city, nestled amid the bluffs.) The former seminary chapel--now the diocesan chancery's--is dedicated under that title as well, and is a real (if highly unusual) gem. It is the work of the twentieth century's most underrated liturgical architect, the great and miraculously versatile Edward J. Schulte.

Photo by Br. Stephen, O. Cist.

Schulte was a Cincinnati-based designer, and his enormously long career in the field started after an encounter with Ralph Adams Cram at the start of the century and closed in 1967, his death coming only a few years later in 1975. Schulte's great strength was his ability to design traditional churches with a modern flair, and embody even his more austere, modernistic designs (depending on the client) with an unparalelled sense of groundedness, liturgical decorum and beauty. There is shockingly little about him in print, save for a few scattered references and unpublished dissertations, but with the growing interest in the architects of that era, perhaps this will change.

Schulte also designed the impressive (and, at its completion at 1962, surprisingly new) cathedral in La Crosse, which I will cover in a future post. It deals with many of the same decorative and iconographic themes as the chapel, but in a much-enlarged way. It would be interesting to see which came first.

Here follow a few more photos of the interior, taken on a recent visit to the area. Fellow blogger and friend Br. Stephen of Spring Bank (who joined me on my tour of sacred La Crosse this time) has also covered this chapel at his site as well.

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