St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church
Spring Green, Wisconsin
Saint John was the last project designed and completed by William Wesley Peters, the renowned Architect and Engineer, Frank Lloyd Wright’s first apprentice of the Taliesin Fellowship and later architectural associate. Upon Wright’s passing, Wes co-founded Taliesin Architects and continued a broadly based practice in architecture which eventually spanned six decades.
The original St. John was completely consumed and devastated by a fire caused by faulty electrical wiring. The reverend formed a Building Committee that commissioned Wes Peters as the Architect for the new design, which would be located on a separate vacant parcel of land nearby which the church owned.
The scheme of this church evolved three times during the first months of its design. The original design presented a church facility that was constructed entirely of integrally colored concrete block with an exposed, heavy timber roof structure and T&G wood decking. The roof was to be finished with standing seam copper. There were large, patterned precast concrete frames with inset glass that ringed the main worship area. Members of the Building Committee expressed dissatisfaction with concrete block and urged the Architect to use native limestone instead. This request came as quite a surprise to us at the time, since we were operating under the impression that budget would not accommodate stone masonry.
The church was accepted with the above-mentioned revisions and the project entered the Design Development Phase. Plans were submitted to the General Contractor (local firm already pre-selected by the BC) for pricing evaluation. Sure enough, the Church could not afford stone. In the end, the project was value-engineered to colored stucco for the entire exterior. All of the precast elements were eliminated.
The entire complex is roughly 15,000 sqft. in area. The Worship Area seats 400 persons. A centrally located Greeting Hall separates the Main Church from a large Parish Hall for banquets, wedding receptions, etc. At its far end is a large commercial Kitchen.
I participated upon this project while with Taliesin Architects. My role was as a member of a three person Project Design and Production, working closely with Architect Wes Peters in developing, refining and detailing the design as well as Building Code/Accessibility analysis and implementation. I shared the duties of Construction Administration along with the Project Architect.