St. Jacobi - A Brief History
April 20, 1873 marked the beginning of the history of St. Jacobi Congregation on Milwaukee’s south side at S.13th and W. Forest Home Ave. It began with a converted blacksmith shop, then a first church building that same year, and in 1906 a second large Gothic church building. The congregation had a school from its beginning days. There was rapid growth because of immigrants. As the years went by the picture changed, with many from the area moving out into the suburbs. In 1961, because of the need for a new school with adequate space, and because of the high cost of maintaining its present location with a declining membership, a new location was purchased 6 miles to the southwest at 8605 W. Forest Home Ave. in Greenfield. The school was built first and use began in 1964. From 1965 to 1977 services were held at both locations. German services were conducted through 1970, and English services began in 1918. In 1977 the original location was sold and all services were held in the school gymnasium until the present church was completed in 1979. An expansion was added to the school in 1994. As 2001 ended, the membership of the congregation was 1,138 souls and 850 communicants.
The congregation has been served by 8 pastors and 9 principals as of the start of 2001. The pastors: William Damman (1873-1894); John Jenny (1894-1931); Paul G. Naumann (1931-1941); Gervasius Fisher (1941-1949); Harold H. Eckert (1949-1961); Paul G. Eckert (1959- ); Timothy P. Henning (1989-1998); Timothy J. Spaude (2000- ); Richard A. Waldschmidt (2001- ). The principals: Albert Baerwald (1873-1885); August Haise (1885-1909); Friedrich Curschmann (1893-1928); George Denninger (1928-1947); Raymond Mueller (1947-1959); Kenneth Kolander (1949-1969); Arlen Koestler (1969-1978); David Hackmann (1978-2014); Brian Mensching (2014- )
Dates in St. Jacobi’s History
- organized on April 20th.
- Pastor William Dammann, first pastor.
- First school, a converted blacksmith shop.
- First church dedicated in October, location at W. Forest Home Avenue and S. 13th and W. Mitchell Street.
- Second school dedicated in November; served until 1964.
- Affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.
- Pastor William Dammann died in February.
- Pastor John Jenny installed as second pastor in April 1894.
- First parsonage built, 1321 W. Mitchell Street.
- Second church dedicated in October.
- English services conducted every Sunday, with German continuing every Sunday.
- English services conducted every Sunday, with German.
- Pastor John Jenny retired May 1st.
- Pastor Paul G. Naumann installed on May 31st as 3rd pastor.
- Pastor Paul G. Naumann died on May 30th.
- Pastor Gervasius Fischer installed September 21st as 4th pastor.
- Pastor Gervasius Fischer accepted a call to Mankato, MN.
- Pastor Harold Eckert installed August 7th as 5th pastor.
- Pastor Paul Eckert installed November 8th as assistant and 6th pastor (he had served here as vicar in 1955-56).
- Pastor Harold Eckert accepted a call to the WELS office.
- Pastor Paul Eckert installed, December 10th, as sole pastor.
- Congregation voted to purchase our present Greenfield, Wisconsin location.
- German services dropped to twice a month.
- Cornerstone laying of new school at S. 86th St. and Forest Home Avenue.
- Third school dedicated and classes started in April.
- Regular every Sunday church services started in March at our new location in the school, continuing also at the church.
- Decision reached in September to list our S. 13th Street property for sale.
- After this year German services were discontinued.
- Second parsonage (at new location) dedicated in April.
- April 20th completed 100 years of history.
- Old school, old hall and old parsonage were razed.
- In March we reached 10 years of having services in the school gym.
- January 30th accepted offer on W. Mitchell St. property.
- February 20th closing service at church on W. Mitchell St. (1,152 attending).
- Work began on new church at S. 86th St. and W. Forest Home Ave. location in August.
- Mr. David Hackmann became school principal.
- Cornerstone laying for new church February 18th.
- October 21st church dedication service.
- Rededication of pipe organ, October 19th.
- 25th anniversary for Pastor Paul Eckert.
- Congregation hit 1000 souls mark.
- Second pastor added, Pastor Timothy Henning, November 5th. St. Jacobi's 7th pastor.
- Monday evening services began.
- Added second communion service.
- New hymnal use began - Christian Worship.
- Footings in place for school addition.
- Afternoon Advent and Lenten services began in addition to evening.
- Changed communion services from 1st and last weekends to 1st and 3rd.
- School addition completed in time for August opening. Dedication September 11th and 12th.
- Preschool program added, school now a pre-K through grade 8.
- Pastor Timothy Henning takes call to serve in California.
- Pastor Timothy Spaude, July 16th , becomes St. Jacobi's 8th pastor.
- Pastor Richard Waldschmidt, July 15th , becomes St. Jacobi's 9th pastor.
- Pastor Paul Eckert, after announcing his retirement for August 31st, accepted a call to continue serving the congregation in a semi-retirement position.
- Semi-Retirement Celebration for Pastor Paul Eckert, June 9.
- 50th Anniversary in the Ministry Celebration for Pastor Paul Eckert, November 5.
- Recognition of Pastor Paul Eckert's 50 years of service in St. Jacobi Congregation, November 9.