History of St. Bartholomew Catholic Church
The parish of St. Bartholomew's Catholic Church in Villard celebrated
its 125 years in 2008. The following is a brief history of the church from 1883
Catholic missionaries ?rst visited the Villard area in 1866. The group
was led by Rev. Augustine Burns, a missonary for Pope County and other counties
in the area. About 17 years later, in 1883, the Rev. C. V Camache organized the
Villard Catholic Parish. A church was built under his supervision and was known
as "Church of the Lady of the Lake." The church was located two blocks west of
the present grocery store on Main Street and north of the street that led to
the lake. Father Camache lived in Sauk Centre and came to Villard for worship
The actual church building was constructed by John Gaffaney, Frank
Burns, Patrick Malloy, Daniel Daugherty, Frank Daugherty, Edward Wansley,
Patrick Hogan, John Hanrahan Sr., John Heffers, James Hart, Stephen Hart,
Hubert Lenz, Peter Smith, Dan Kane, Henry Kane, Thomas Gallagher, Joseph
Blomigan and Lawrence Cosgrove. Early residents instrumental in building the
church are memorialized on the tombstones in Calvary Cemetery, located south of
Villard. In 1903, a belfry and sacristy were added to the original church
In 1883, the church purchased land for its cemetery ($75), had the new
land surveyed ($12), recorded the deed (75¢) and fenced the area around
the cemetery ($7.75). A home was also purchased and furnished for the priest in
the same year.
The Rev. J. Brender lived in Villard for only a short time (1893-1894)
but it was during Brender's pastorate that the name of the church was changed
from "Church of the Lady of the Lake" to "St. Bartholomew."
In 1923, under the leadership of Rev. Benedict Petermeier, property
was purchased in Villard where the present building now stands. The property
was 175 feet by 150 feet and was purchased by the church for $175 plus one
year's taxes. Shortly after the purchase of the land, the basement church was
built in 1923 by George Hallet, of Glenwood at a cost of $4,700. At the time,
membership had reached 130 people. Seating capacity for the basement church was
about 225 people.
By 1935, the Fnancial squeeze from the Depression started to loosen
its grip, as noted in church records.The superstructure of the present church
was built in 1950 under the direction of Rev. Harold Dimmerling. It was built
on top of the basement church, at a cost of $42,000 to $46,000. The ?rst mass
in the new church was held on midnight on Christmas in 1950.
A dedication service held in 1951 was attended by the Most Rev. Peter
Bartholome, Bishop of St. Cloud, along with 40 priests.
The outside of the church has been ?xed up several times over the
years. The two biggest additions to the exterior since it was built are the
monument erected in the front of the church in 1976 and the handicap
accessibility ramp constructed in 1998. The monument was donated by the
Clarence Reichmann family in memory of their son, Dr. Theodore Reichmann, who
was killed in a car accident on Aug. 17, 1973, on his way home from a service
More renovations are currently underway at the church. These
improvements include new hardwood ?oors and carpet on the interior and a new
roof and maintenance free trim on the exterior. The church council is also
exploring the idea of making the entire church handicap accessible.
During the dedication of the 1951, the Most Rev. Peter Bartholome,
Bishop of St. Cloud promised the parish would be assigned a resident pastor as
soon as the debt was retired and funds for the parish house were on hand. The
parishioners retired the debt in mid 1960s, but due to a shortage of clergy,
this promise has not been ful?lled.
For the ?rst 23 years (1883-1907) the Villard parish was served by
priests from Sauk Centre. For the next 66 years (1907-1973) the priests from
Glenwood took care of the spiritual needs of the parish. Since 1973 the Villard
parish has been twinned with the St. Alexius parish in West Union.
This History was taken from