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They secured the 80' x 120' parcel of property at the corner of High St. and Erie St. for $2,200. An 80' x 30' section was sold off and plans were immediately drawn up to build a 30' x 50' brick church building on the remaining section of land. The cornerstone for the new church was blessed on November 12, 1896. Construction progressed rapidly and three months later the first Mass was celebrated at St. John Nepomuk Church.
In their home country, the Catholic Church had been well established for centuries. Upon arriving in Racine, and already joined by the natural ties of blood, language and culture, the Czechs settled on the north side of the city and in the rural areas of the northern end of Racine County. They attended the well established Catholic parishes of St. Patrick's and St. Joseph's.
The Czechs being recent immigrants had difficulty with our new and strange language. In 1895 the Archbishop took it upon himself to help them establish their own parish where they could hear the word of God in the language of their fathers. Many of the Czechs had already banded together sharing their common Catholic interests in an association called the St. John Nepomuk Society. They met in their homes and devised a plan to start a parish of their own with money pledged by their members. Final arrangements were made for the establishment of St. John Nepomuk Parish.
Before the turn of the century, the city of Racine had already found itself to be a growing and thriving Great Lakes city as well as an established industrial center. The Racine harbor was one of the busiest on the Great Lakes. This progress and prosperity gave the promise of security to many immigrants from Europe. Racine attracted large groups from almost every country in Europe and among them were the Czechs.
In the early 1900's, realizing the need for a parish school to provide for the religious instruction of their children and to help secure the future of their parish, plans were made for a parochial school. The parish secured the previous section of land that had been sold off and remodeled the house on it to serve as a school building. St. John Nepomuk's new parish school opened in September 1906 with a total enrollment of 94 students. The remodeled school consisted of two classrooms and two Sisters of St. Dominic of St. Catherine's Convent in Racine took charge of the school.
With the congregation growing, it was readily seen that the size of the church and school would not be adequate to serve the future needs of the parish. In 1909 St. John Nepomuk Parish purchased a half block of property on Green St. between English St. and Yout St. The eight lots were purchased for $3,900.
In 1912, the corn crops on these lots were cut early to break ground for the new combination church and school building. On October 12, 1912 the cornerstone was blessed. The building was completed in the summer of 1913. It had four classrooms on the upper floor and the ground floor was used for the church.
Prior to St. John Nepomuk opening at this location, there had been little growth beyond Goold St. Along with this new location came rapid growth and the Catholic residents in this area acknowledged St. John's bid for recognition and families of other than Czech ancestry began to join the parish.
In 1913 the rectory was built on the lot directly south of the church and school building. In 1916, a new rectory was built on the lot south of the existing one and the old rectory was converted to a convent for the Dominican Sisters who were still operating the school. In 1917, the School Sisters of St. Francis Convent in Milwaukee was assigned to take over the operation of St. John Nepomuk School.
In the years during WWI and immediately following, there was rapid growth in the parish. In just six years, the four school rooms had been outgrown and in 1919 an addition was built to increase the capacity of the church and add three more classrooms and a meeting room. At the same time, an addition was required for the convent to provide living quarters for the additional teachers. When St. John Nepomuk Parish celebrated its Silver Jubilee in November 1921, the need for further expansion was clearly seen. The solution to the problem facing the crowded church and school was to build a new church.
After acquiring additional property adjacent to that already owned, the congregation proceeded with plans to build a new church at the corner of Green St. and English St. The cornerstone was blessed on August 21, 1927 and on April 22, 1928 the new church was officially blessed by the Archbishop. During the summer of 1928, the former church was remodeled into school rooms and an auditorium to accommodate the increasing school enrollment. Another addition was also made to the convent to accommodate the additional teachers.
With all the expansion to this point in time, the parish debt had risen to more than $120,000. Burdened with this debt during the years of the great depression, and as a credit to the sacrifice by the members of the parish, never once was there a default on an interest payment during those years. With the return of more prosperous times, the parish congregation challenged themselves to pay off all this debt. This was accomplished by the parish's Golden Jubilee celebrated in November 1946.
Late in 1947, more remodeling was planned. This included enhanced plumbing, a kitchen in the basement of the school along with a parish hall, fire escapes for the school and blacktopping the playground. It was agreed that $121,000 would be borrowed to cover the cost of these projects. An additional $30,000 would be approved a year later to complete these projects.
In 1950, Fr. Joseph Macek became pastor of St. John Nepomuk Parish. At that time the parish had grown to 390 families, with 14 sisters teaching school and an enrollment of 383 students. Three Masses were held each day of the week and five were held on Sundays. Within three years, the parish grew to 900 families with almost 500 students enrolled.
In November 1971, the parish celebrated its Diamond Jubilee and during the 1970's a kindergarten was added to the school. In 1975 Fr. Macek died after serving as pastor for 25 years. In tribute to him for his success in rebuilding our parish property, the school hall was named Macek Hall. By the end of 1976, the parish had paid down its debt to just $12,700.
By 1956 there were 580 students in 13 classrooms and double classes were taking place. The new addition with four classrooms and a second hall beneath them was built in 1958. By 1960, with 16 classrooms, enrollment had grown to 705 students.
Fr. Macek proposed the purchase of the last lot and house located on Saint Claire St. and the sale of all houses owned by the parish. This was to help finance a new rectory and convent. In 1962, it was determined that a fund drive of $300,000 was needed to proceed. The Archbishop insisted on a minimum of $100,000 be deposited before the work could begin. During this process, student enrollment had reached 770. Work began and construction on the rectory was completed in 1964 with the convent completed the following year.
In 1978 the parish underwent a successful fund drive to have stained glass windows installed in the church. During the early 1980's major renovations were done to beautify the inside of the church. At the same time the area's demographics were taking a toll on school enrollment which the parish saw drop to around 270 students.
In September 1995, a Centennial Committee was formed to plan for the parish's 100 year anniversary. With the church renovations completed, St. John Nepomuk Parish began its Centennial Celebration beginning in November 1996. Ten years later in 2006, with enrollment at 120 students, St. John Nepomuk School celebrated its 100 year anniversary of providing a quality Catholic education.