ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Trinity Lutheran Church

Established 1916

605 S. Fourth St


Trinity Lutheran School



Trinity Lutheran Church



Trinity Lutheran Church Congregation Has Purchased Building Which Will Be Remodeled in Time.


The Buchheit estate residence, formerly the home of Luther Cole, one of the founders of Watertown, will soon be converted into a house of worship to be used by the congregation of Trinity Lutheran church.  The deal was made late Wednesday afternoon through the Jefferson Investment company of which Alex Buchheit of Milwaukee, one of the heirs, is president.  It is proposed to remodel the building to fit it as a place of worship, but so far the church council has no definite plans as to the time when this work will be taken up as labor is scarce and building materials high.


The English Lutheran church was founded by the present pastor, the Rev. F. E. Stern, in November, 1916.  Mr. Stern came here from Mansfield, Washington at that time.


The board of trustees are as follows:


President—Prof. S. Probst.

Vice President—Ralph Young.

Recording Secretary—Dr. F. Schlueter.

Financial Secretary—William Gorder, Jr.

Treasurer—Otto Winkenwerder.

Rev. F. E. Stern, Henry Sauer.


The Watertown end of the real estate deal was looked after by Skinner & Thauer.       The Watertown News, August 02, 1918



A building committee was established in 1945



Plans were approved to build a new church.  The old house/church was razed by Trinity members




[Derived from Trinity Lutheran Church Caller newsletter, 01 2017]


A special congregation meeting was called for June 8, 1953. Mr. Schumann, as chairman of the Building Committee, gave a history of the project. Having met recently with the architect, the congregation ratified changes in the specifications. The estimated cost of the building with furniture and architectural fees was now $302,141.00.


One can only imagine the discussion that followed.  The new estimate was 10 times larger than the original amount raised based on the original goal for building construction.  The minutes record that “various opinions were expressed and questions answered”. A motion was made and passed that the congregation should vote by ballot on the new church as recommended by the Building Committee. The results of the ballot were for the church – 77; against – 14.


The next issue was construction material. The next resolution was whether we should have the church Lannon stone or brick. A rising vote was taken. The number of members for Lannon stone – 52. Number of members for brick – 7. A notation on the side margin of the ledger in which the minutes are recorded make this statement: Lannon stone would cost $6,500.00 more than brick. It brought the cost up to $308,641.00. The next issue dealt with was the balcony or gallery. Another motion was made, seconded, and carried that we vote on finishing the gallery of the church. Results: for finishing – 10. Opposed to finishing – 31. A final motion of the evening carried. The officers of the congregation were given the authority to sign a building contract.


By mid-July demolition of the Church Home had begun. Some practical matters had to be decided. The services of the janitor were no longer needed since there was no church building to clean. The congregation would be meeting for services in the gymnasium of Northwestern College. A $600.00 donation was made to the college for providing their facility as well as providing a canvas covering for the gymnasium floor. Insurance coverage was obtained for the people (in some cases entire Trinity families), who were participating in the demolishing the Church Home. All members were asked to state when they would be available for voluntary labor. For those who could only volunteer in the evening, flood lights were brought in to allow the work to continue. The congregation knew the contractor would be ready when they were ready.


Care was taken in the demolition work. Many of the bricks were cleaned and used in foundation rooms of the new church. Even today bricks of the Church Home can be found in the basement storage rooms at the west end of the current church building. By the October 5 congregational meeting the report was given that progress on the new building was satisfactory. Thanks were expressed for the help received in demolishing the old building. While the new building was progressing, recommendations on financing the project came to the council:


Two plans for funding our church were presented: A bond issue with the Ziegler Co. consisting of $150,000 bond issue at 4-1/2% and on the assumption the congregation raises $54,000 by July 1, 1953, meaning pledges are redeemed July 1, 1953, instead of December 31, 1953.  Borrow $50,000 from synod at 4% no set time to repay. Borrow $50,000 from bank at 4% for 6 years retiring $8,000 per year on principal. Borrow 30 to 50 thousand dollars from individuals at 3-1/2% for 12 years. It was felt that plan no. 2 would be the better one to follow. 


Once again Pastor Timmel was thinking ahead to what needed to be planned: The matter of cornerstone laying and dedication was brought up. Pastor Timmel asked for suggestions on how it should be done. It was decided an extra envelope marked “Cornerstone Laying” and a publicity pamphlet be mailed to members and the Watertown community watched the changes in the 600 block of South Third Street with interest.


The Watertown Daily Times printed an article to help answer some questions:


Details of New Trinity Church Are Announced Contracts Signed; Building Project to Require a Year


Construction work on the new Trinity Lutheran Church, opposite City Park, will begin around September 1, it was disclosed today as details of the structure were released.


The church will be Gothic in type and will have clerestory construction with transepts. The exterior will be of Lannon stone with Bedford trim. The interior will be in face brick. The building will have an asphalt roof.


There will be a full basement. Balconies will extend over the narthex and in transepts. There will be a deep chancel and a roomy sacristy. The side aisles will be separated from the nave by arches. The main entrance will be on the West side facing City Park, There will be a north porch with entrance at grade level.


Indirect Lighting


The floor will be covered with asphalt and clay tile and the church will be illuminated by indirect lighting with rheostat control. There will be a split heating system that is hot water and forced ventilation.


The dimension of the new church will be 129 feet in length, and 39 feet wide in the nave and the ceiling will be 40 feet above the floor.


Above the West entrance there will be a rose window while on the East a Gothic window will rise above the altar. Gothic windows will be provided on the main floor and square windows in the clerestory. The main floor will seat 444 and additional seats for 157 will be provided in the balconies.


The basement quarters of the new church will contain a full auditorium, stage, kitchen, Sunday school rooms, toilet facilities, and a boiler room.


Will Require One Year


The building period for the new church is one year. During the interval the congregation is holding its regular Sunday services in Northwestern College Gymnasium.


The general contractor for the project is Orville Madsen, Minneapolis, widely known as a builder of churches.  The Otto Biefeld Company, Watertown, has the contract for the mechanical installations and the electrical contract has been awarded to Arnold Ruesch, Watertown.


Frank Abrahamson, St. Paul, is the architect.


Cost of the buildings is as follows:  General contract, $260,143; mechanical contract, $30,735; and electrical contract, $8,210.29. 


Long Time Planning


Plans for the new church have been underway for several years. Recently work was begun on dismantling the old church building, which was formerly the William Buchheit home. It was acquired by the congregation and dedicated in May, 1919. Work on dismantling it is nearing completion. All of the work on removing the old building has been done by members of the congregation, working on a volunteer basis. They began demolishing in mid-July and large groups have been working, mostly evenings. Men, women, and even children of the congregation joined forces in doing the work. Floodlighting was erected on the site to facilitate night time work.


Trinity Lutheran Church, of which the Rev. K. Timmel is pastor, has a membership of 560 confirmed and a total of 775 persons,


The building committee includes W.A. Schumann, chairman, Arthur Mallow, Dr. E.C. Kiessling, Albert Schlueter and R. A. Guenterberg.


The finance committee consists of Arthur Weihert, A .L. Grinde and Henry Maltz.


In announcing the details for the new church, a spokesman said today that the plans have been underway a long time, but it is felt when the new building is completed it will be one of the most beautiful new Gothic-style churches to be found anywhere in Wisconsin. 


1953 was shaping up to be a very interesting year at Trinity Lutheran Church!





Vilas Glaeske, Rev. Kurt Timmel, Jon Teslchow

Phyllis Schlueter, Joyce Hackbarth, Bruce Bentz, Nancy Schlueter, Susan Edwards

Penelope Riemer, Valerie Frohmader, Shirley Wittchow, Mary Ummus, Sandra Reinhardt.

Confirmation held at NorthWestern College auditorium because new Trinity church was being built.



The new church building was dedicated on Dec. 6, 1953, with some of the remaining work finished in 1954.  The stained glass windows were installed in 1962.




        Installed by United Organ Co. of Milwaukee (replaced in 1992)




On Sunday, June 10, Trinity Lutheran Church will observe the Feast of Pentecost, and in connection with the observance, will dedicate its new colored windows.  The church building was completed in 1953 with the excep¬tion of the art windows.  In late years memorials and special donations have been made by members for this purpose.  In 1961 a committee consisting of E. C. Bilse and W.A. Schumann was elected and instructed to proceed with the plan by soliciting ideas and submitting designs and samples of work from well-known studios to the congregation.  Later in the year the Conrad Schmitt Studio of Milwaukee was given the commission to work out a series of windows together with this committee.


Portfolio of all windows  


Portion of stained glass window

showing the home that was demolished and

the church built on the site of the former

William Buchheit home, 605 S. Fourth Street




The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod which numbers St. Mark’s and Trinity Lutheran Churches in Watertown among its members and of which St. Luke’s Lutheran Church is an associate has made plans for the construction of the Wisconsin Lutheran chapel and student center at Madison.  The Rev. Henry E. Paustian, one of the pastors of St. Mark’s Church, who serves as missions chairman of the synod’s western district, first made the plans known several months ago and the purchase of property for the construction has now been completed.



06 21       Rev. TIMMEL RETIREMENT

The Rev. K. A. Timmel, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church since 1932, is retiring on June 30 and he and his wife will move to Wausau to make their home, it has been announced. He will be succeeded by the Rev. Walter A. Schumann Jr., of Watertown, S.D. Pastor Schumann, who is expected in the city in July, is a son of Prof. Walter A. Schumann of Northwestern College. He is due to take over his duties July 24. In the interim the Rev. Prof. Paul Kuehl of Northwestern College will serve as vacancy pastor.



Trinity Evangelical Lutheran congregation of Watertown will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of its founding next Sunday, Nov. 13.  To mark the event, two jubilee services will be held Sunday morning, the first at 9 o'clock and the second at 10:30 o'clock.  The Rev. Oscar J. Naumann, president of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod in which Trinity holds membership, will deliver the sermons.  All friends of the congregation and the public are invited to attend these services.


1974       SCHOOL BUILT

                School built at 801 South Fifth Street




Music plays an important part in worship services at local Lutheran churches, often because of a rich German heritage.  That heritage will be portrayed in an astounding way when Trinity Lutheran Church dedicates its new $250,000 organ on Palm Sunday.  The service will be the first of many for the unique mechanical organ which is expected to last for hundreds of years.  The organ replaces an electric pneumatic organ which only lasted about 35 years.  The church has gotten rid of the “new fangled” version in favor of the type of organ built as far back as the 1300s which is still in use in Europe.  Builder Darron Wissinger of Portsmouth, N.H., and voicer Hal Gober of Toronto, Canada, have spent 14 hour days in the church for the past two months to put the organ together.  Gober spent an additional six weeks last fall pre-voicing the pipes.  



07 10       Rev. MATTEK

Rev. James A. Mattek installed; fifth full time pastor welcomed in 83-year history   WDT




Trinity Lutheran Church, 604 S. Fourth St., is planning construction of a parish hall addition of its Gothic style church building which was constructed in 1953. Architectural planning is currently under way and actual construction is expected to begin later this year. The 800 member congregation voted last month to proceed with plans for the $1,213,000 structure which will be located to the south of the current church building. A major corridor connecting the existing narthex to the new larger narthex will pass through the base of a bell tower. In addition to the larger narthex area, the main floor will also have a large parents' room, conference room, a large office area, an enlarged altar guild room, rest rooms and an elevator.   WDT




10 06       Trinity Lutheran Church of Watertown, 605 S. Fourth St, celebrated the 50th anniversary of its church building and the 30th anniversary of the Trinity School building.  Trinity's origin began in 1916 with English services and 13 members in St. Mark's School auditorium.  Pastor Frederic Stem was called as first pastor. Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church was established on Nov. 5, 1916. It was commonly referred to as Trinity English Lutheran Church.  The Ladies Aid was organized in 1917.


10 23       During worship services on Sunday, the Rev. James Mattek will preach a farewell sermon to the members of Trinity congregation.  Mattek has served as Trinity’s pastor since 1999.  He recently accepted a call to serve as administrator for Wisconsin Lutheran Child and Family Service, located in Milwaukee.  Immediately after services, a dinner and program will be held in honor of the Mattek family.  WDT




Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church in Watertown will bid farewell to the Revs. Terry and Sue Larson on Sunday, Nov. 25.  They are retiring after several decades with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).


A farewell brunch will be held between services, from 9:15-10:30 a.m.  Everyone is welcome.  Members of the congregation are encouraged to bring a healthy potluck brunch item to share.


Terry Larson was called to Immanuel in 2007, first as an interim pastor and later as the full-time senior pastor. His spiritual and administrative leadership has contributed greatly to the congregation and the ministries of the church. The congregation has known him for his wisdom, gentle manner and healing presence.


Sue Larson joined Terry Larson in ministry at Immanuel in 2010.  Her interest in global ministries, underprivileged people, and environmental stewardship has fostered many beneficial changes at Immanuel.  She has worked closely with Immanuel’s conservation committee to create beautiful and eco-friendly gardens around the church, and recycling efforts have greatly increased.


Under the inspiring leadership of the energetic husband and wife team of pastors Terry and Sue Larson, Immanuel’s positive contributions to the community continue to grow.  The Watertown Food Pantry, Bread and Roses weekly dinner, the Hometown Mission and the Personal Essentials Pantry have all been based at Immanuel.  Sue Larson was instrumental in getting the Personal Essentials Pantry established.


The church council and all members of Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church invite everyone to attend worship with them on Sunday, Nov. 25.  These will be the final worship services in Watertown guided by the Larsons.  Services are at 8 and 10:30 a.m.  Everyone is also invited to the potluck brunch.




James Moeller, principal of Trinity-St. Luke’s Lutheran School in Watertown for the past 32 years, retired from the teaching ministry of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod on June 30, completing 44 years of service.


A native of Granville in northwest Milwaukee County, Moeller graduated from Dr. Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota, in 1976 having earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.  Upon graduation, he was assigned as principal, teacher, and church organist at Abiding Word Lutheran Church in northwest Houston, Texas.


Prior to leaving Houston, Moeller earned the first of his graduate degrees, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University in Houston.  In 1981 the Moellers moved to Chicago, Illinois, where Moeller served as teacher, organist, choir director, and eventually principal for St. Andrew Lutheran Church and School located at the geographic center of the city in McKinley Park.  Moeller also served as the director of the Lutheran Festival Chorus of Chicago comprised of members of various WELS congregations in the Chicagoland area.


In 1988 the Moeller family moved to Watertown when Moeller accepted the call to become principal of Trinity-St. Luke’s.  That year Trinity Lutheran Church and St. Luke’s entered into an expanded joint agreement which included the remodeling the campus at the Western Avenue, building an addition of a new gymnasium, and expanding the faculty.  In addition to serving as principal, Moeller also taught grades seven and eight.


Over the years as TSL grew, Moeller became a full-time principal teaching only one math class and some music classes.  During his years as principal, Trinity-St. Luke’s became a two-campus school with preschool through grade four at the original Western Avenue location and grades 5-8 at the Clark Street campus attached to St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in 1999.  Moeller provided oversight of the first self-study in 1998 leading to TSL’s first accreditation in 2000 as well as subsequent self-studies including the current fourth self-study for the upcoming accreditation visit.  Moeller has served the church at large as a school visitor in Texas, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin; a school counselor; mentor to beginning teachers; chairman of the Wisconsin Lutheran State Teachers Conference; parish schools’ coordinator for the WELS Western Wisconsin District; and the teacher-atlarge representative of the Synodical Council of the WELS.










The first congregation met in a house built by one of Watertown's early settlers, Luther Cole, on the William Buchheit property (SE corner of Fourth and Wisconsin) which was purchased by the church in 1919.  The home was remodeled and church services were conducted there for many years.


The existing parsonage was built in 1921, and by 1922, the church had 212 communicant members.  Rev. Kurt Timmel was named pastor in 1932.


Trinity members had some participation in the operation of St. Mark's school starting in 1920, and Articles of Agreement for the school provided Trinity with the opportunity to call a teacher in 1933.  She was Hertha Sievert, who taught for 47 years.


A building committee was established in 1945 and in 1952 plans were approved to build a new church.  The old house/church was razed by Trinity members.


The new church building was dedicated on Dec. 6, 1953, with some of the remaining work finished in 1954.  The stained glass windows were installed in 1962.


In 1966, the Rev. Walter Schumann was called to replace Rev. Timmel, who retired.


Trinity Lutheran School


The Trinity School Building Committee was established in 1972 to pursue its own school due to crowding at St. Mark's School.


Trinity Lutheran School was built on Western Avenue on land purchased from the city, and the school was dedicated Jan. 6, 1975.  Principal was Allen Krause and the school had three teachers and 95 students.  Twenty of the students were St. Luke's members.


Phillip Glende was named school principal in 1978, and Robert Moldenhauer took over in 1980.


Trinity-St. Luke's Lutheran School


In 1981 the joint school operation was established.  The school was named Trinity-St. Luke's Lutheran School, or TLS. Communicant membership was 530.


The Rev. William Gabb was called to replace Rev. Schumann, who retired.


Due to enrollment growth, expansion plans for the school got under way in 1987.  St. Luke's became joint owners of the school, and plans for a building addition were approved. The school was dedicated in 1988.


When James Moeller became principal in 1990, the school had a staff of nine, and 193 students.


The new organ was installed in 1991 in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the church, Communicant membership was 595.  The sound system was replaced with a new sound system in 1992.


The Rev. Paul Eickmann joined the church as part-time pastor in 1995.


In 1997 a new bell system was installed. A buildings committee was established to plan for a church addition, and a heating and cooling systems upgrade.


School expansion prompted a decision in 1998 to establish a split campus. St. Luke’s built the school on Clark Street and Trinity purchased full ownership of the Western Avenue campus.


There were several changes in ministry in 1999. The Rev. Robert Voss served as interim pastor after Rev. Gabb accepted another call. Rev. Eickmann retired, and Rev. Mattek was called.


Gerald Kastens joined the church as minister of discipleship in 2000, the same year the church addition and upgrade were approved.


The new Parish Center addition and heating and air conditioning systems were dedicated in 2001.


In 2004 communicant membership was 653.  The school staff numbered 15 and student enrollment was 279.




    Image Portfolio    





No 1:  Trinity Lutheran website 

No 2:  St. Luke’s chapter

Trinity-St. Luke’s Lutheran School




Table of Contents 

History of Watertown, Wisconsin