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St. Wenceslaus Church - Iowa City, Iowa

In Iowa City, the Bohemians were going to St. Francis Xavier Church until it burned down. Then they attended St. Mary's but the language barrier was difficult (at that time St. Mary's had mostly German homilies). In 1891 a Bohemian priest, Rev. Joseph Sinkmajer, was sent to help clear the language barrier. He would become St. Wenceslaus' first priest. By 1893 there was well over 2000 Bohemians in Iowa City. They settled around the St. Wenceslaus Church area. They were brick layers, masons, tin smiths, laborers, and carpenters. Many helped build St. Wenceslaus. Many homes around St. Wenceslaus were built by the Bohemians.

The Bohemians had large gardens and raised fowl for eggs and feathers. Geese especially were raised for down comforters. The Bohemians used geese feathers to dip into lard to make kolaches. Every morning the Bohemians would drive geese to the area near Oakland Cemetery to graze on the grass there. The geese would graze on grass during the day and in the evening they would be driven back home. The area eventually came to be known as Goosetown.

The land around St. Wenceslaus was purchased in 1892 for $825. Excavation for the new 40' x 80' building was begun April 15, 1893 (after the spring thaw) and was estimated to cost $7000. The contractor was Frank Novak. The original interior was completed in time for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve 1893. It looks a bit different than today with the altar against the wall and a kneeling rail. The stained glass in the church was donated by parishioners. Two represent St. Ludmilla and St. Wenceslaus. The different styles are due to the original stain glass of 1892 and the stain glass in the addition done in 1921.

In 1897 the rectory was purchased for $3300. Until that time Rev. Sinkmajer was residing in the rectory at St. Mary's.

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  • Uploaded on April 4, 2013
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    by KingHawkFan