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Sacred Heart College

Watertown, Wisconsin


Sacred Heart ad_edited.jpg


Watertown newspapers News and Republican both covered school events.  The Watertown Historical Society has an annotated timeline of school history.  The Wisconsin Historical Society has a building history.  “The Juniorate of the Brothers of the Holy Cross at Watertown, Wisconsin 1866-1966” by Bro. George Klawitter, C.S.C.  has an early history of the school.  The above ad is from the 1906 city directory.


The University of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart was founded in 1872 as a preparatory school for priests, created by the Brothers of the Holy Cross. It opened with 27 boys, increased to 65 by the end of the year.


Chartered in 1874, it was opened to lay persons and allowed to award bachelors’ degrees. The Times reported in 1882 that the school had 51 students doing college-level work; that year it awarded four A.B. degrees and five B.S. degrees.  In 1886 the Fathers closed the college and reopened Sacred Heart as a seminary. In 1889 with a new building, Sacred Heart once again became a college, open to lay students.


The Sacred Heart ad in the 1900 city directory shows eleven faculty.  Most taught traditional liberal arts disciplines—especially languages.  Three taught commercial subjects; two taught instrumental or vocal music, but surprisingly none taught speech activities or physical education.  Increasingly, more students received a commercial rather than a classical degree from the school.


Sacred Heart College remained a small school.  Each year the News published a school census of Watertown students.  In 1897 the number for Sacred Heart College was 95.  In 1901 and 1903 they were 81 and 82.  By 1911 the numbers were down to 35.  


The major celebration of the school year occurred on St. Patrick’s Day.  This was an occasion of music and drama.  The vocal and instrumental music students developed a glee club and an orchestra to provide music.  The St. Patrick’s Literary and Dramatic Society performed an annual drama.  The Peerless Comedy Company entertained both at the college and in area towns.


Klawitter believes that “weak control and dwindling enrollment” contributed to the decision to close Sacred Heart College and convert it to a Juniorate in 1912.   In 1956 it reopened as a military school, before closing in 1968. 

Bricks and Mortar

In 1871 the Holy Cross Fathers purchased the Bertram property, 51 acres containing a two-story brick residence, the first home for Sacred Heart College.  On June 16, 1873 the cornerstone for a new two-story, brick building was laid, containing part of the Rock of Cashel from Ireland, where St. Patrick allegedly converted the kings of Munster.   This 100 x 50 feet structure later became the central section of the main building, known as Corby Hall.  A three-story east wing containing the chapel and refectory was added in 1889-90, becoming the facade of the structure.  In 1894 a southwest wing was added, providing a new 75 x 30 feet gymnasium and bowling alley.


After the military school closed, the property was sold to Maranatha Baptist College, the present occupant.

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Google image of "Old Main" at Maranatha Baptist University

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Addie Joss.  1902 photo by Carl Horner


            School Colors: Blue and Gold


In 1877 the Nine Disciples Baseball Club defeated a team from Northwestern College 42-35.  So baseball became the signature sport at the school.  At least through 1907 Sacred Heart teams competed successfully against college and independent teams—including the University of Wisconsin.  At least three Sacred Heart players went on to major league careers.  Addie Joss won 160 games for Cleveland (1902-1910).  Joss’s catcher, John Peter (Red) Kleinow, played eight seasons (1904-1910 in the majors, primarily with the New York Highlanders.  Major league player, manager and coach Bill Killefer played at Sacred Heart College in 1907. also lists Washington shortstop George McBride as a Sacred Heart product.


The News shows limited football activity between 1894 and 1908.  Among college level opponents were Beloit, Ripon, Carroll, Lawrence, Whitewater Normal and the Milwaukee Medics.  Prep opponents included Wayland Academy and St. John’s Military.  Their schedule often included independent teams such as the Watertown Athletic Club.  Given their modest enrollment, Sacred Heart teams enjoyed little success in football-—specially at collegiate level.

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Red Kleinow.  Image from Society for American Baseball Research.

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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