The first services of the parish, then known as St. John’s in the Wilderness, were held in 1854. Wausau would not become a city for another 18 years! The Reverend Thomas Green “commuted” six days by stage from Stevens Point to hold services in the parlor of the Forest Home Hotel. The church structure was begun in 1857 but was destroyed by a windstorm that same year.
After the Civil War ended in 1867 construction resumed on the church and was finally consecrated in the year 1887. Many worshipped in this wooden structure for over 25 years until the parish decided to build a church of stone. Moving the old church to the north side of the lot, connecting it with the new building, and converting it into a parish house bring us up to date for that building. It stands today as our present Memorial Hall – now 140 years old! This was in 1915. That same year the church was renamed the Church of St. John the Baptist seeing as how the church was no longer in the wilderness. Most of the church’s beautiful stained glass windows originate from this period.
In 1922 the rectory was rebuilt and many years later, in 1965, that building was remodeled into an office and classroom space. At this time, additional stained glass windows were added above the choir depicting St. Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians. The church was again remodeled and updated in 1973 to bring the building up to code.
As you can see, St. John’s has undergone much over its 153 year history! It has stood as a beacon of hope and love through much over last century and half, including: the erection of the Statue of Liberty, the Bubonic plague, creation of the first ice cream cone, first electric traffic light, the depression, WWI and WWII, Elvis, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the first World Trade Center Bombing and 9/11! And we hope to be here for another 150 years in the future!