By Sarah Weihert
The final touch to the remodeled exterior of the Mamre Moravian Church, built in 1903 located along County Highway Q in Milford, took its place Monday atop the church steeple.
The finial, the last piece of the historic church to be renovated, was placed by Lakeside Construction. Bob’s Metal Works of Lake Mills created the finial, which matches the original 1903 tin and zinc. The original had a 22 bullet hole in it. The church started a renovation project in 2019 for its 160th anniversary celebration and due to a number of factors the finial could not be placed at that time.
The original church, dedicated in 1861 and made of logs, rests at the Aztalan Historical Museum on the corner of Highways B and Q. The church was originally built near the Crawfish River, south of Hubbleton, in Milford township from trees felled on the property by its congregation of 15 recently emigrated German families with the help of neighbors of other faiths. It was built on land donated by church member Albert Bredow.
The congregation grew quickly in the early years and outgrew the log church by 1871. A frame church and parsonage were built in 1874. The log church was dismantled and moved to sit beside the new church on County Rd. Q. In 1874 the log church was dedicated again but this time as the Sunday School in the new parsonage.
Jefferson County has been home to a vibrant Moravian church community since the 1840s. Their first Jefferson County church was Ebenezer, built in 1853 between Watertown and Johnson Creek. Churches and rural preaching stations followed at Lake Mills, Newville, Oakland Center, Pipersville, Aztalan and Milford.
In 1996 the parsonage, which was no longer used, was razed, bringing the log structure to light after it had been built over by later additions to the building. The log church was dismantled for the second time and moved to the Aztalan Museum site.
Moving the structure was a joint effort of the Lake Mills-Aztalan Historical Society, Marvin Kirst and many local volunteers under the guidance of Lyle Lidholm of Watertown, a barn builder who helped to build Old World Wisconsin.
The little white church standing today on County Rd. Q was built by the congregation in 1903. The cost of the 1903 church was $2,564. In 1936 the pipe organ that sits in the church today was purchased from the Watertown Moravian Church for $50.
The church remodel has been a three year project in the making which included a new roof, total reconstructed of the bell tower, internal church repairs of electrical, storage, lighting, and walls, new entrance steps an ADA ramp, new plants and bushes.
“There are a few more little projects at the church to complete but time, finances and weather control the rest,” said Don Wegner, coordinator/sexton.
He and his wife Lisa Nashold spend hours at the church doing yard work, cleaning and setting up for services. The congregation still meets once a month for services at the church including Christmas Eve.