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The wayside votive chapels of Northeast Wisconsin represent an old world religious tradition brought to this area. In the 1870's, Belgian immigrants settled in southern Door County and brought their cherished culture and customs. Mostly devout Roman Catholics, they made their homes in a wilderness where crude roads and few churches made it difficult to assemble and practice their faith. Tom compensate, some settlers continued the Belgian tradition of building a family chapel, often to give thanks for prayers answered or to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary or a special saint.
At first glance, these sacred places could be mistaken for a simple garden shed or privy, were it not for the small cross usually placed above the door or on the roof. While the chapels in Belgium were often of stone or brick masonry, the northeast Wisconsin chapels are sometimes wood framed.
Each chapel has a small altar on the wall opposite the door, which is lovingly decorated with flowers, candles, religious pictures, and statues. Sometimes, personal items are hung on the walls, including photographs, and marriage and baptismal certificates. If the chapel is dedicated to a saint, the name of the saint may appear on a small sign above the door.
By tradition, most wayside chapels are open to any worshiper at any time, and are slightly removed from the farm itself for privacy and quiet. These chapels are houses of worship and should be treated with reverence and respect by the visitor.
Some of the chapels are on or near their original location, several have been moved, and some have been lost. The ones that have been documented are listed and below. Shown in italics is the name of the family, plus/current owners. The following symbols indicate the level of access to each location.
(OP) = Open to the public. It should be noted that some chapels may be inaccessible and closed in the winter.
(LP) = Limited Public access. Whether the chapel is locked or unlocked, the visitor should obtain permission to enter or have the door unlocked.
(PR) = Private. No access is allowed onto the owner's property.
Saint Hubert Chapel (Guilette) Saint Francis de Paul Catholic Cemetery, 200 CTH Y, north of Duval (LP)
Our Mother of Perpetual Help Chapel (Baudhuin/Jadin), 9861 Swamp Road west of CTH C, northwest of Rosiere. (OP)
Saint Michael the Archangel Grotto (Englebert-Chisholm) Saint Michael's Catholic Cemetery, 562 Misere Road north of CTH J, Misere (OP)
Saint Odile Chapel (Destree) 9780 Fox Lane, Town of Gardner (OP)
Chapel of the Holy Family (Pierre) 1853 CTH N south of CTH K (not visible from the road, use the driveway) (OP)
"Two Hearts" Chapel (Moore) Pit Rad northeast of Namur (PR)
St. Francis and St. Mary Grotto 9716 CTH C, St. Francis Catholic Cemetery, north of Brussels (OP)
Little Chapel of the Sacred Heart (Englebert) 1453 CTH C, Brussels (OP)
Norbertine Chapel (Peninsula Belgian-American Club) 1257 CTH DK on ground of Peninsula Belgian American Club, Namur (LP)
Saint Roch Chapel (Jadin/Gerondale) 1257 CTH DK on grounds of Peninsula Belgian American Club, Namur (LP)
Blessed Virgin Mary Chapel (Baudhuin) CTH DK near 1298 Pit Road, East of Namur (OP)
Our Lady of the Snows Chapel (Englebert) 1003 Pleasant Ridge Road at Creek Road, southwest of Namur (LP)
Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel (LaCrosse) 9415 CTH D west of Misere Road, north of Misere (additon to garage, enter through garage) (OP)
Saint Ghislain Chapel (Flemal) Saint Michael's Catholic Cemetary, 562 Misere Road north of CTH J, Misere (OP)
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