Tour the Church of St. John Chrysostom

Building of the church was begun in 1851, just three years after Wisconsin became a state. Actual dedication of the church took place in 1856. The architectural style was, at the time, a new concept called "Carpenter Gothic"---actually a Gothic revival--- since it was an attempt to recreate the old stone churches of England using native materials. In this case it was kiln-dried oak harvested from the shores of Okauchee Lake. Growing amidst sprawling maples, the oak trees rose straight and tall with hardly any side branches.  Once cut, these oaks produced long boards with few knots. The lumber was all sawn by hand. It has been estimated that five times as much wood was burned in the kilns as was actually used in the construction. All interior furnishings were made at the same time and of the same oak material with two exceptions, the altar which is a single stone slab, and the stone baptismal font.  


All construction is mortise and tenon.  Nails were hand-forged from heavy metal and finished with square ends. No plaster was used in any part of the building process.  The exterior of the church was finished in board and batten style. Jacob Luther, the village blacksmith at the time, forged the elaborate hinges on the sacristy and southern entrance doors.  These works of art and craftsmanship are still in use 151 years later.  


The mid-nineteenth century was a time of liturgical revival with the rediscovery of many customs as well as ceremonial and architectural features of the Middle Ages. In keeping with the liturgical revival, this church is noted for its Rood Screen,  the ornamental barrier between the chancel, or altar area, and the nave, or the body of the church. It is called "rood" because of the large rood, or cross, which is mounted on the top - another feature typical of a 14th century church building.


The original main entrance of the church was the south door. In keeping with church custom, the baptismal font was placed in a direct line with a church's front door, symbolizing entry into the faith through baptism. 

Mvc-050s Faldstool

The pulpit is of unusual design. It is more of a giant reading desk than the traditional semi-enclosed pulpit. The carvings on the pulpit match those on the Rood Screen, the lectern, the altar rail, and the pews.


Outside, in accordance with old English custom, the graves in the cemetery cluster around the church. The first burial was that of John Hill, the sexton and caretaker of the church. He is buried near the original south door. Some of Delafield's early settlers are buried in the cemetery including Nelson Hawk of Hawk's Inn. He is buried on the east end of the cemetery.


The bell tower is free standing, reflecting the builders' concern over the safety of suspending such a heavy structure on top of the church. The bell housing came from Milwaukee, but the bell itself was cast in England. It traveled from New York through the old Erie Canal to Milwaukee.  This structure served another useful purpose for early parishioners.  It enclosed the original bathroom, otherwise known as an "outhouse".

Please feel free to walk our grounds at any time. 

If your organization or group would like a tour of our church

Please call (262) 646-2727 or use our
Contact Us page to schedule a day and time.