Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Church of the Immaculate Conception

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Institution Name: Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College
Original/Historic Place Name: Church of the Immaculate Conception
Location on Campus: northeast of the Corbe House
Date(s) of Construction:
1886-1890original construction
1987renovation; rededication
Designer: unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Victorian (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: Indiana limestone
ca. 1907-present (2006)chapel

The cornerstone of the church was laid in 1886, and the building was completed in 1890. The interior was not finished until 1907, when the marbles and altars were installed, the paintings executed, and the decoration scheme completed. It is built of Indiana limestone in the Italian Renaissance style, designed somewhat after the motif of La Trinita in Paris.

The church serves as a place of daily worship for the Sisters of Providence. The Shrine of Blessed Mother Theodore Guerin, foundress of the Congregation, is also housed in the church.

The terrazzo floor, pink Georgian marble floors, and red Numidian marble walls beautifully accent several frescoes in the front of the church, which were painted by Thaddeus von Zukotynski during its construction. A rare Casavant pipe organ fills the church with rich music during liturgical celebrations. Renovation on the organ was completed in 1999.

When sunlight streams through the stained-glass windows, the church becomes alive with the scenes of the life of Christ and stories from the Old Testament. The windows were created at the Bavarian Art Institute in Munich, Germany. The Stations of the Cross were also made in Munich and are fashioned from alabaster.

The 1986 renovation updated the church in compliance with liturgical norms adopted following from the Second Vatican Council. A reredos, or high altar, was removed during the renovation, and then Carrara marble was used to fashion an altar of sacrifice, a lectern, and a president's chair. A space high on the center wall of the sanctuary was filled with triumphant sculpture of the risen Christ. The central image on the curved sanctuary wall, the Christ figure, was sculpted by artist Harry Breen of Champaign, Ill.

This is not a College building but one that building that belongs to the College's founding institution, the Sisters of Providence. More information on this building can be obtained by contacting the Office of Congregational Advancement at 812-535-3131 or by visiting the Sisters of Providence website.


Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods. "Church of the Immaculate Conception." Online (2006).


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Last update: November 2006