2009 - Present
Completed in 1906 after three years of construction by the local residents, St Hedwig's is the largest country church East of the Mississippi River. Designed after a sister church by the same name in Poland, St Hedwigs has a 127' steeple, 40' cathedral ceilings, and over 8,000 square foot sanctuary. This is truly a unique and magnificent historic building.
Abandoned since 1970 after many years of political strife between the Polish and German members, the church was slated for destruction, much to the disappointment of the community. During the recording process of Fragile's last record, "This Land Will Be Civilized," St Hedwig's was used to record all the Violin and Cello arrangements. After hearing the incredible results of these recordings a grand and seemingly impossible idea began to emerge.
Plans were put in place to begin restoration of the building and convert the interior into a recording studio as well as headquarters for the Hands Foundation. The preservation of the building would not only halt its steady decline, but also give it a second life. This would not only retain the history of the local area and church for all the generations involved in its past, but expose countless others to it as well. The building was an inspiration to so many people who had either attended the church or its functions and they wanted to see it returned to its former glory.
Early on in the planning process, the Hands Foundation was fortunate enough to acquire the help of world-renowned studio designer Michael Cronin. Michael Cronin has over 20 years experience designing and building the best studios in the world. He has designed and built hundreds of studios around the globe including Ocean Way and Blackbird Studios in Nashville as well as many personal studios for Mutt Lange, Shania Twain, Clint Black, Big and Rich, Ryan Tedder (One Republic) and countless others. Michael is especially skilled at church studio renovations and upon his arrival to St Hedwigs said it was, "one of the best sounding rooms he has ever been in". To find a structure of this quality in a secluded location like central Wisconsin is truly inspiring. The true essence of St Hedwigs is attributed to the passion of its creation, its storied history and its impression left on all who have climbed its alluring front steps. It's this essence that's an indelible part of all the music created and recorded in the St Hedwig's. With Michael's skill and expertise St Hedwig's will be one of the best studios in the country while maintaining its timeless character.
An agreement was reached on Christmas Day 2008 with the catholic dioceses of La Crosse, WI to lease the church to the Hands Foundation so renovations could begin. Work has been going on ever since with hundreds of people volunteering their time. Through volunteer labor and generous donations, the Hands Foundation has already been able to make great strides including extensive renovations, removal of over 100 tons of debris and the installation of a new lifetime guaranteed steel stone coated roof. It is the incredible passion of the local community and business that has made this project possible and will continue to move it forward. Because of the work done thus far, thousands of people have been able to experience the awe inspiring beauty of this amazing structure again for the first time in over 40 years. And thousands more will continue to be able to experience it for years to come. Fragile and the Hands Foundation are honored to be part of such an effort.
CONNECT TO ST. HEDWIGS
See the progress of the new windows in St. Hedwigs. Most of the glass has been put in and plans for the stained glass is being prepped. See the plans and the look of the new glass windows. There are still windows left to sponsor. Learn how you can get involved with this project.
BASEMENT CLEAN UP
The first project to be scheduled for St. Hedwigs was completely tearing out the basement. Filled with old plaster and lathe and a cement floor that had heaved during the many unheated winters, the project was undertaken with the help of many volunteers.
Another exhaustive and tedious process came in the form of the pulling of what seemed like millions of nails from the areas surrounding the pews in the sanctuary where there used to be carpeted walkways. Thanks to volunteers this was done in record time.
With a generous donation from Kulp Construction we were able to get the new roof put on at a fraction of the cost. See the photos of the brave crew who repelled down from the peak to apply the Decra Steel roof in the heart of the winter. This projects completion put us ahead of schedule.
Thanks to the work donated by Larry Nickel with help from his brother Dale, this project was completed well under the time it was projected to be. It also came in well under cost. Nearly the entire church is completed, including the hard to reach steeple.
An exhaustive cleaning process began with the cleaning of "a mountain" of bird droppings from the steeple which housed the areas entire population of doves. Leuvers were replaced and the roof was fixed. See the process in pictures and find out who had a hand in this crazy endevor.