Guido Beck’s Holy Ghost Catholic Church

Guido Beck’s Holy Ghost Catholic Church

Holy Ghost Catholic Church

Built: 1915

Located: 2921 Central Ave

The Holy Ghost Catholic Church was one of the last major Dubuque church designs by architect, Guido Beck. Beck designed this church in the Italian Renaissance style of architecture in 1915, reflecting a change in church design style. Beck’s design for Holy Ghost, St. Joseph Chapel at Loras College, and St. Philomena Catholic Church in Asbury (1920) illustrate the waning popularity of the Gothic Revival style for church architecture in the first couple decades of the 1900s, in favor of Romanesque and Italian Renaissance styles.

church

Rendering of Holy Ghost by Guido Beck (photo credit: Archdiocese of Dubuque)

The Holy Ghost parish was formed in 1896 in response to rapid population growth in the northern parts of Dubuque and the Sacred Heart parish. The Sacred Heart parish was established in 1879 to meet the demands of the German immigrant population that St. Mary’s could no longer accommodate. With the continued influx of German immigrants to the area, Archbishop Hennessy created Holy Ghost parish at the 2900th block on Central Avenue. Initially, a combination church and school structure was built with the anticipation of increased growth in the student population. The building also contained living space for the Sisters who taught at the school. As the parish continued to grow there was need for additional space. Guido Beck was again commissioned by the archdiocese to design a new church. At just over $10,000, Beck designed the church in the Italian Renaissance style of architecture and in the form of a cross.

Joseph Walter, renowned artist of Midwest church interiors, painted the murals and art works for the interior. Walter was originally from Tyrol, Austria and settled in Dubuque in 1898. He would go on to decorate 185 churches across the Midwest. Unfortunately, most of Walter’s murals have been removed or painted over. The mural of Jesus on the ceiling of the transept is the only remaining artwork of Walter’s in Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost church, school, rectory, and convent are now listed together as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.

cross

Inside of Holy Ghost. circa 1950’s (photo credit: Tom Welu)

inside-cropped

Inside of Holy Ghost (2016)

Architect of the Month: Guido Beck, October 2016

Architect of the Month: Guido Beck, October 2016

Guido Beck (1853 – 1936), was a Dubuque architect who specialized in the architecture of churches and schools. Beck was born on January 25, 1853, in Hohenzollern, Germany where he received his early education and later studied architecture at Stuttgart and the University of Heidelberg. As a young architect, he was awarded the position of superintendent and was given one of his first building commissions by the German government to construct an asylum at Schussenried, Germany.  Beck completed the asylum in 1882, and then, against the wishes and advice of all his friends, left his native country and immigrated to the United States. He thought his chances for success were infinitely greater and the field for work much broader in the U.S.

G. Beck

Portrait of Guido Beck

Upon his arrival to the United States, Beck traveled to Rock Island, Illinois and worked as a stone-cutter in the government arsenal. There he familiarized himself with the language and customs, thoroughly mastering the American style of architecture.   With the knowledge he already possessed, Beck quickly became one of the foremost architects in the State of Iowa. In 1885 he came to Dubuque and partnered first with fellow German émigré architect Fridolin Heer.  After a few years, he left the partnership to develop his own architecture practice.  With the booming Catholic population, Beck specialized in church architecture.  He designed over 100 church buildings throughout the region, one as far away as Bozeman, Montana.  Beck-designed churches are found throughout the State of Iowa.  His preferred architectural style was the Gothic Revival style, with its pointed arches and soaring steeples.

Among the notable Dubuque buildings, Beck designed St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, St. Columbkille Catholic Church, St. Joseph Chapel at Loras College, Holy Ghost Church, St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the mortuary chapel at St. Raphael Cathedral. Beck also designed many parochial schools and residences including the St. Raphael School on Bluff Street, recently converted into apartments. Beck also designed the following churches in the surrounding area: St. Clement Church in Bankston, St. Joseph Church in Bellevue, St. Martin Church (now St. Matthias Church) in Cascade, and St. Joseph Church in Rickardsville.