Spring Street Catholic Cemetery

later Grand Avenue Catholic Cemetery

The present W. Wisconsin Ave. was formerly called Spring Street because so many springs welled up in the roadway. Later it was called Grand Ave. to match Milwaukee's ambitions, but was changed to W. Wisconsin Ave. because it connected with the old Wisconsin St. of the East side. [Source: Historical Messenger, ser. 1, no. 3, 1945.]

The third cemetery in the city was the old Catholic cemetery on Spring street above Twenty-second adjoining the Pettibone estate. Some of the remains in this cemetery were ones moved from the old First Ward Cemetery. Spring Street Catholic Cemetery was abandoned long ago, many of the bodies being removed to the new Catholic Cemetery, Calvary, in Wauwatosa about 1857.


Solomon Juneau and his wife were originally buried in this cemetery. As was several prominent citizens of Milwaukee's early days.


The following articles have been compiled on the Spring Street Catholic cemetery. Since there were two cemeteries on Spring Street one Catholic, one Protestant, it is unknown if the first article below is the Catholic or the Protestant one. We assume it was moved west but not very far west (to about 22nd street).

Daily Sentinel and Gazette, (Milwaukee, WI) Friday, October 23, 1846; Issue 216; col B

We are informed that an effort is about to be made to vacate the burial ground near the Spring Street Road, west of this city, probably because it is too near the town, or because the spot is wanted for more important purposes. This was one of the first places provided for the burial of the dead in Milwaukee; is regularly laid out in lots and alleys, many of which are sold to individuals, and the ground is ornamented with some of our native forest trees. If this is vacated, what will become of the bodies deposited there? Must the corporation, already overloaded with debt, be burdened with the expense of removal? And if they are to be removed, wehre is it to be their next resting place? The only other lace provided is that south of the Menomonee, about the same distance from the business portion of the city. There can be no advantage in such a removal-for that too, must soon be removed for similar reasons. While other cities are expending large sums on their "Mount Auburns," their "Mount Hopes" and their "Greenwood Cemeteries," we are about to destroy what little has been already done. Until we have a suitable place selected and improved ar at least enclosed, at a suitable distance from the city, (say not less than three miles) it is not best to let our present repositories of the dead remain as they are? It is hoped that the day is not far distant when Milwaukee will not be behind Boston, Rochester, or New York, in this respect. But until the effort is commenced, it is to be hoped that our relations and friends who have departed this life may be allowed to rest in peace. On the same road, west of the Menomonee river, is ground of undulating surface, soil dry and gravely, and in other respects, precisely suited to this purpose-scarcely fit for any thing else. Would it not be well for some of our citizens to examine this ground with a view of selecting a place upon which all can united in making it what it ought to be?

Source: Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, (Milwaukee, WI) Wednesday, June 22, 1881; pg. 8; Issue 144; col D

From Grave to Gay
An Old Time Cemetery to Be Turned into a Private Park

It is quite probably that the large tract on the south side of Grand Avenue which once served the Roman Catholics of the city as a burial ground, but which has long since fallen into disuse, the bodies having been moved to Calvary Cemetery, has changed ownership under negotiations in behalf of the Catholic Sisterhood by Mr. Timothy Dore, who has for some time past acted as their agent for the sale of the land. It is said that the purchaser, who is said to be a millionaire-a statement indicating Mr. Alex. Mitchell to be the interested party-intends to donate it to the city for use as a public park. The grounds are valued at from $40,000 to $50,000 and are certainly well suited for public promenade. From the knoll in the rear line, a fine view of the city and of the Menomonee Valley obtains. It is at that point that the remains of Solomon Juneau for a time rested, the site being chosen as the most appropriate for the founder of the city, since from his grave could be seen where he once dwelt in the valley, and beyond the towers and lofty building of the metropolis he had in after years platted, and in which he had resided as the chief executive. The grounds were for years held in reserve as a place upon which a Catholic institute could be found and were more recently offered to the state for the site of the proposed Normal School. That so generous a thought in behalf of the citizens of Milwaukee is about to be realized is certainly a cause for congratulation. Should the purchaser honor his noble purpose, his name will be voiced by generations yet unborn as that of a public benefactor deserving perpetual enshrinement in the hearts of the people of Milwaukee.

Source: Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, (Milwaukee, WI) Thursday, June 23, 1881; pg. 2; Issue 145; col D

Lots and Acres Transfer of the Old Burial Ground Property on Grand Avenue


Transfer of Old Burial Ground Property on Grand Avenue

Alexander Mitchell will convert the Tract into a Park

That Grand Avenue Tract. The announcement by The Sentinel that the old Catholic burial ground on Grand avenue, was about to be transferred to Hon. Alexander Mitchell by an agent of the Sisters of Charity was an item of news widely and favorably commented upon by all interested in real estate matters. For several years past the tract has been deeed very desirable as residence property, and, more recently, the Sisters have received offers by parties who would at once have platted and placed it upon the market, among them Messrs. Deuster and Nunnemacher, who also viewed the grounds as advantageous for speculation.

The tract is one of six acres and a half with a fine bluff line overlooking the Menomonee Valley. It once belonged to the diocese, but finally became the property of the Sisters of Charity, on funds advanced to the Bishop. It is said that there are holders of burial lots there, spaces about twenty-five feet square on the Grand Avenue front, whose titles are good, and whose claims are open to adjustment. Latterly the property was placed in the hands of agents to be sold at $40,000. It is now sure that Mr. Mitchell's offer of $35,000 has been accepted and that the papers are being drawn. In cause the premises are thrown open as a public park by the generous purchaser, they will doubtless be greatly improved by the formation of winding path and carriage ways.

History of Mitchell Park/Mitchell Park Domes

We wonder if the Mitchell Park of the articles above and the current Mitchell Park (where Mitchell Park Domes are) are the same park. It makes sense, but the location is off from where the map shows us the cemetery is. Wisconsin and 22nd street is further north than the current domes. A cemetery appears on the 1878 Milwaukee map, and appears to be roughly six acres.

Source: Mitchell Park Domes Website

The Mitchell Park Conservatory has been part of the Milwaukee scene since the first conservatory was built in 1898. The original conservatory exhibited flowers in a "greenhouse" setting and served the public until 1955. Because it was determined to be unsafe and impractical to repair, the conservatory was demolished.

A design competition, won by a local architect, produced the plans for the new conservatory. Donald Grieb's winning entry called for three beehive-shaped (not geodesic) glass domes, 140 feet in diameter at the base and 85 feet high, offering 15,000 square feet of growing space for plant display. Each dome would have a distinct climate and exhibit plants in a naturalistic setting. These are the Arid, Tropical, and Floral Show domes.

Construction began in 1959 and proceded in stages. This allowed for the building to be paid in yearly appropriations, thus avoiding the cost of bonding. The total cost was $4.5 million when it was completed in 1967.