St. John’s Lutheran Church was organized on November 27, 1904 at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Zahon. This group of 59 parishioners utilized the facilities of the Friedens Lutheran Church, which was located at the corner of 7th Avenue and 51st Street. Itinerant pastors initially served the congregation approximately four times a year. In 1910, the congregation felt sufficiently progressive to purchase a large mansion, which was known as the Colonel Howe Estate. The members remodeled it to accommodate their church needs, and the building was dedicated as a House of Worship on November 13, 1910. In 1932, the State of Wisconsin issued condemnation orders against the 75 year old building. The congregation was put to a decisive test of faith. In the depths of the Great Depression these were very crucial times, but the congregation, determined in their ways, decided an intensive program of reconstruction should be undertaken. Even though there was opposition and divergent reaction, a majority of the congregation voted to proceed.
The first thing they did was hire a contractor, Mr. Nels Nelson and an architect, Mr. Hugo C. Haeuser. The last service in the old church was held on November 12, 1933 and the construction work commenced on November 13, 1933.
Realizing the unemployment situation (85% of the church men were out of work), and the determination of the congregation to see this project through, the men of the congregation were employed on the job by the contractor. They were involved in any and all of the many tasks that were asked of them in order to get the job done. The remodeling consisted of a complete alteration of the external appearance of the old building. A bell tower at the Southwest corner of the building was erected. Stained glass windows, purchased by church members, were placed in the building. The interior was remodeled to carry out the motif of the Italian Gothic style of architecture. The basement and first floor were combined to make a gymnasium.
Everyone involved, including the contractor and architect, donated a portion of their wages back into the congregation to help defray the cost. The church was completed and dedicated “to the Glory of God and His Service” on November 25, 1934.
In 1938, a large pipe organ which had been located in the Simmons Children’s Library was purchased from the Kenosha Library Board. Roesler Hunholz Organ Company of Milwaukee, WI electrified it, and the organ was dedicated on February 12, 1939. In 1954, the Golden Anniversary of St. John’s was celebrated with the installation of three beautiful bells that were purchased from the Petit-Fretzen Bell Foundries of Holland, in Europe. The church was incorporated on November 8, 1959 and adopted the name “St John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenosha, WI Incorporated.
A new organ console was purchased and dedicated on February 9, 1964. In 1967, a new Altar Table, Pulpit, Baptismal Font, Communion Rail and Chancel Cross were installed. The Cross was made by Mr. John M. Barosko in memory of his departed Father, Mr. Martin Barosko and his departed Father in Law, Mr. Daniel Stika. In 1991, St. John’s became a Historic Landmark, in recognition of its ethnic background and how well it is maintained. In 2000, the Church Sanctuary was remodeled i.e., new pews, carpeting, wainscoting, painting of the church interior and moving the altar table away from the wall.
Construction was started on a new church addition, and in 2001, the “Gathering Space” was completed and dedicated. This addition serves as a suitable setting for meetings as well as a place for social fellowship after the morning worship service. Realizing this space was totally handicapped accessible, the City of Kenosha asked for and received permission to make this a designated polling place.