Historic chalice thought to be lost in a cyclone a hundred years ago recently uncovered at Wisconsin church
It was lost but now it is found.
A ornate silver chalice believed to have been lost from the St. Thomas Episcopal Church during the 1899 cyclone was recently found in a far corner of a remote storage area in the present day Sts. Thomas & John Episcopal Church, New Richmond.
A thorough church cleaning uncovered the chalice, tarnished, but otherwise in good shape. Parishioners were delighted with the discovery, but no one knew how or when the chalice found its way "home." And that mystery might never be resolved.
History records are sketchy since the cyclone destroyed not only the Episcopal church, but church records within. It is known that the Episcopal church in 1899 was located near the corner of Second Street and Green Avenue. The building was said to have been an abandoned school.
The church was not replaced and insurance money went to the Star Prairie St. John's-in-the-Wilderness Episcopal Church. In 1910 the New Richmond Episcopal church was declared "dead" by the Archdeacon of the Milwaukee diocese.
But the discouraging news didn't stop dedicated Episcopalians from meeting in homes, schools, lodge halls and other available meeting places.
The big break came for Episcopalians in 1946 when the diocese gave permission to purchase the English Lutheran Church, on the north side of New Richmond, which was merging with the Norwegian Lutheran Church down the block.
At this same time the Star Prairie Episcopal Church closed. Its alter, pews, kneelers, missal stand and pulpit were transferred to the New Richmond church.
And that is one of the theories of where the silver chalice might have been hidden for so many years: Perhaps someone found the chalice in the cyclone aftermath and gave it to the Star Prairie church for safe keeping.
Another theory is that one of the New Richmond Episcopalians might have kept it safe at home until it could be placed in another church.
But at this point most agree it doesn't really matter what path the chalice took through the last 112 years...except perhaps to history buffs like Kirby Symes.
Symes, lay Eucharistic minister, and formerly a history teacher, took the chalice home and shined it to its former luster. He then had a friend and craftsman, Dennis Zielski of River Falls, make a shadow box to display the chalice. New priest at Sts. Thomas & John, the Reverend Vern Barber, consecrated the chalice and case during a recent Sunday Service.
The "Little Red Church on the North Side," as the church is affectionately called, was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1986. Built in 1906, it is the oldest continuously used church in New Richmond.