A Brief History of Holy Communion Lake Geneva
• Church of the Holy Communion is one of the oldest Episcopal parishes in Walworth County – services began in 1844 in Bloomfield Township, WI. When the church moved to Lake Geneva, the services were first held in the Presbyterian Church. The current building was erected in 1880.
• The first services were conducted by the Right Reverend Jackson Kemper, the first Episcopal Bishop in Wisconsin until the arrival of Fr. John McNamara on September 29, 1849.
• The church was named in honor of the Church of the Holy Communion in New York, the parish of Fr. John McNamara
• In 1857 the present site was purchased. The architectural firm of Treat and Volts in Chicago designed the building. Construction began on the church and a rectory on the adjoining lot west of it. On June 7, 1882, the Bishop of Milwaukee consecrated the new Church of the Holy Communion. Three days of consecration rites followed with a special train of guests coming from Chicago to attend the celebration.
• The church is of gothic design with walls of native granite boulders, which were split and laid up irregularly to show a clean front and give the effect of changing colors and design.
• The windows and coping of the steep roof are bordered with limestone, and the forty-three foot high interior is buttressed with oak beams.
• The pipe organ has long been recognized as the most inspiring musical instrument known.
• A cabinet organ was a gift to the church in 1874, but was replaced by this Hook and Hastings tracer-action pipe organ in 1883. It was built in Boston and has often been requested for special community organ recitals.
• In 1910 a “water engine” and supplementary bellows were installed, but in 1912 an electric blowing machine was installed because the water engine had frozen and burst.
• It was completely overhauled in 1939, and in 1960; the manual keyboard was recovered in boxwood and the wind system was replaced.
• In the entry to the right are two plaques. One is for William Augustus Mulenberg (1796-1877) a leading Episcopal priest of the 19th century, a proponent of Catholicism in the Anglican Church and a great influence on both Bishop Kemper, the first bishop of Wisconsin and Fr. John McNamara, the first rector of The Church of the Holy Communion.
Stations of the Cross
• The Stations of the Cross were carved in Obergammerau, Germany, which is the home of the world famous Passion Play, and were installed in the church in the early 1960’s.