Now Online: St. John Chrysostom Church, Delafield & McFarland Historical Society

St. John Chrysostom, the "Little Red Church on the Hill," Delafield.

Two small but distinctive collections posted to the database…

The first group features furnishings from St. John Chrysostom church in Delafield, an outstanding example of the “Carpenter Gothic” style of church architecture popular in the 1850s. Wisconsin architecture historian Richard Perrin noted the prevalence of this style in rural churches in his article “Richard Upjohn, Architect: Anglican Chapels in the Wilderness” (Wisconsin Magazine of History, 1961).

According to church history, the interior fittings, including a limestone font and altar and a Gothic Revival-style pulpit, were all constructed by local craftspeople. The church and its artifacts were brought to my attention by Jim Babcock, curator at Hawks Inn Historical Museum and a great proponent of the database project. Jim brought me to the church specifically to see the massive wrought iron hinges on the south doors and sacristy door. Local history has it that the ornate door hardware was made by German immigrant blacksmith Jacob Luther, but marks on the hinges reveal another maker–British-born Philip Cutland. Interestingly, Luther and Cutland appear as neighbors in the 1850 federal census for Delafield. The small size of the community and the prestige of the commission to provide work for a significant local building may suggest that the two blacksmiths worked together on the project.

Kubbestol highchair descended in the Skare family, ca. 1860-1900. McFarland Historical Society.

The second group of artifacts, from the McFarland Historical Society, reflects the Norwegian-American heritage of south-central Wisconsin. A significant portion of the McFarland Historical Society’s collection–including a log cabin moved to the site in the 1960s–comes from the collection of Albert Skare, a descendant of a Norwegian family that emigrated to Wisconsin in the 1850s. The Skare Collection includes hundreds of trunks, boxes, spoons, and other wares brought from Norway or collected on visits back to the “Old Country,” as well as some locally-made items used by the family in their pioneer days, such as this unusual highchair (above). The chair’s form is based on a traditional Norwegian form known as a kubbestol.

During my visit to McFarland, a member of the historical society generously shared a small marquetry table passed down in another local Norwegian immigrant family.

–Posted by Emily Pfotenhauer.

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