Campion Jesuit High School is situated in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, the second eldest city in the state of Wisconsin, with a rich historical background dating back to the Joliet-Marquette discovery of upper Mississippi River on June 10, 1673. The School site is believed to be the area where the Fox Indians had their regular encampment and meeting area. The name of the City is in French - and is named after "Chief Dog", thus Prairie of the Dog (chief).
The School was founded in 1880 and has a Charter from the State of Wisconsin for a college and high school. The College department was phased out in June 1925.
The present name of the School is "Campion Jesuit High School", and is named after St. Edmund Campion, S.J. who died a martyr's death in England in the 16th century. Previous to this the School was called "College of the Sacred Heart", and this is still its corporate title. The name was changed to its present title in 1913.
The present eldest building on the campus is the Campion Hall Class Room building constructed in 1909. However, two older buildings were once a part of the School complex. The first of these being "Old Lawler Hall" - built in 1857. This formerly was a Hotel and was known as the Brisbois House. This was a large wood frame structure of three stories and a basement. The Hotel, whose history was tied in with the development of the railroad traffic and its growth west, and the heavy river traffic when boats once docked more closely to this end of the city, eventually closed. Among its varied later uses was that of a Civil War Military Hospital for northern soldiers. - In September 1866 the citizens of Prairie du Chien opened an independent College called "Prairie du Chien College", but it had a short life of three years.
The property was purchased by John Lawler of Prairie du Chien. He was an influential business man and prominent in railroading and steamboating. In 1873 was built the largest railroad pontoon bridge in the world across the Mississippi River at about the location where the new bridge is to be built in 1973.
In the year 1869 the Prairie du Chien College closed and in 1871 John Lawler, a Catholic, greatly interested in education offered the property to the Jesuits. Because of shortage of manpower the Jesuits were unable to accept.
The Property was then turned over to the Christian Brothers who opened St. John's College in August of 1871. This College remained open for five years that is until the end of the school year of 1876. The property then once again reverted to its former owner, John Lawler.
In the year 1879 Mr. Lawler once again offered the property to the Jesuits who this time were able to accept. These Jesuits were members of the Buffalo Mission of the German Province who were doing Missionary work in the U.S.A.
The Jesuits opened the College of the Sacred Heart in September of 1880 with an enrollment of 61 students. The first student to arrive was George Zwack.
In 1881 the College received a Charter from the State of Wisconsin for "The College and University of the Sacred Heart, with the power to confer the usual degrees and academic Honors."
Rev. John Hagen, S.J., on the Faculty, erected an observatory - a forerunner of his later work when in 1888 he was called to Vatican City in Rome to erect and manage the Vatican Observatory.
The Jesuits erected Kostka Hall - a large brick structure - which was situated west of the present Campion Hall Class room building. This building was destroyed by fire on December 14, 1968. For years this building housed the Administration offices, etc., of the School. It also contained many Class Dormitories and living rooms, study halls, theatre and gym, etc.
The College continued thus from 1880 until June 26, 1888.
The College and school was closed to lay students beginning in June 1888 and became a house of formation and studies for Jesuits only for the next ten years. The Jesuits in formation then moved elsewhere, and the school was reopened to lay students. (The Jesuit Philosophate continued here until 1901)
John Lawler, the original donor of the school, died on February 25, 1891.
In September of 1898 the College was reopened to lay students, under the direction of Rev. Anselm Leiter, S.J., and under the auspices of the German Province known as the Buffalo Mission.
The Buffalo Mission, and the German Jesuits who were a part of the Mission and had founded Sacred Heart College of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, were incorporated into the Missouri Province of the Society of Jesus with headquarters in St. Louis, Mo.
The present Campion Hall Class Room Building was erected in 1909. This building originally had not only Class Rooms, but individual living rooms; one huge dormitory that held 96 and several smaller ones. There was also a gym where the present Library is, and a Chapel where the Stone Gardens now are, plus its own furnace, library, showers, etc. The building of Autumn leaf colored brick was never completed. Its present length is only about one-third of the size of the plans. This building has been remodeled and adapted to school expansion several times - the last being in 1959 and the 1960's.
The then called Junior Gym, Study Hall and Kostka Alley Rooms addition or Annex was built in 1910. This Annex was destroyed in the fire of 1968. The last use of this section of the building was as a spacious "Little Theatre", "The Cheese Castle Ball Room", "a coffee shop", "Studies in Russian", and twenty rooms for visiting teams, etc.
Coach William Hoffman, Campion's famed Athletic Coach, was appointed by Rev. Horning, S.J.
Joyce Kilmer, the famed Poet, began his association with Campion and its poet, Father James Daly, S.J.
This was the period when the school was known as the "School with a million dollar faculty , - almost every teacher was known far and wide for his activities."
Campion's first publication comes off the press. It was known as "THE CAMPION", and was put out by the College students on campus.
In April of 1913, the School changed its name from Sacred Heart College to that of "Campion College of the Sacred Heart." (Edmund Campion, S.J., was a young Jesuit English Martyr who gave his life for his Faith during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First.) While the change of the name of the school took place, it continues to retain its corporate title of "College of the Sacred Heart."
Marquette Hall Residence was erected in 1915, and was used by College and Seniors. This was a modern brick structure; fire-proof and having all the conveniences of that period. Indoor swimming pool was also to be included, but then dropped when it was pointed out a pool could not be in a residential building.
During World War I the Student Army Training Corp., the forerunner of the R.O.T.C., occupied the building. The building stands in 1972 as it was in 1915, however, it has been renovated to fit changing needs of the educational Community. The latest being in 1965 when the building was remodeled for the Freshman Class occupation. With the lower enrollment reflected in the 1970's the Freshman now live in Lucey Hall, and this building is not occupied steadily but occasionally.
The original plans for this building called for a large wing on both the north and south ends. This was never carried out - although, enlarging this Hall was under consideration several times.
The First Issue of the "Campionette", the student school paper was issued on November 11, 1917. This paper continued through the years, and was issued usually about twice a month. It ceased publication in 1970.
Joyce Kilmer killed in action on July 30, 1918, in France during World War I; he was a Poet, and a friend of Campion's.
R.O.T.C., the Reserve Officers Training Corp, was inaugurated at Campion - this was the successor of the Student Army Training Corp of World War I - R.O.T.C. continued without interruption at Campion winning many awards - high ratings. It phased out at Campion in 1971.
Father Albert Fox, S.J., effected many changes during his term as head of the school, among them being. the division of the College and High School departments. He also obtained accreditation by the North Central Association during this year of 1919.
The Infirmary building, DeSmet Lodge and the Park across the street on Parish Street was purchased by Campion. The building was enlarged and for years, or up to June 1971, was an Infirmary with a regular R.N. Nurse in residence and a Doctor visiting each morning except Sundays. The devotedness of the doctors and nurses during times of sickness, epidemics, etc., was proverbial.
During the 1971-72 school year part of this building was used for Campus Ministry - and the other part for a Young Children's free school operated by a group. This was not a part of Campion - but space for it was leased to them.
The Central Heating Plant was built to care for the heating needs of the entire school, thus, eliminating the furnaces in Campion, Kostka, Lawler, and Marquette Halls. This plant has continued to care for all the additional buildings added, in the process being enlarged or remodeled to meet the growing needs. The last being in 1959 to accommodate the addition of Lucey Hall, Hoffman Center and Xavier Hall.
In addition to the heating plant - the water plant was included here, with Campion having its own wells. The Water softening machinery was also included in this building. Coal was used as fuel up into the 1950's when a change was made to gas heat, with oil standby, which preceded gas by several years. In the 1960's Campion became a part of the City Water system, keeping its own machinery as standby emergency equipment.
Campion issues its first Year Book "The Knight."
The Student Chapel was erected in 1924-25 and completed in the several years following. It was named "Our Lady of the Angels Chapel." It took 15 years to raise the funds needed, and this was accomplished through the tireless efforts of Rev. Father Theodore Schutte, S.J. Many of the stained glass windows and other furnishings were gifts of individual or groups of alumni. While this building has been redecorated at times, no major renovation has taken place.
Campion becomes a High School only. On June 7, 1925, the College department was officially phased out. Henceforth, the name of the school became known as Campion Jesuit High School. It continues to retain its corporate title of Camplon College of the Sacred Heart.
Campion inaugurates its First Campion Mothers' Day Weekend which takes place the first Sunday in May.
The Freshman Gym (then Senior Gym as there was also a Gym in Kostka] was erected during the term of Rev. Peter Brooks, S.J., and under the auspices of the Father's Club. The Club Room adjoining was erected at the same time.
Joyce Kilmer Memorial Library was dedicated on October 21, 1937, Joyce Kilmer, famed Catholic poet; author of "Trees" and other famed poems was a close friend of Campion, and the Campion's Poet, Fr. Daly. Kilmer was killed in action on July 30, 1918 during World War I.
Loyola Hall Student Dining Hall erected under the term of Rev. William Bowden, S.J. This then completely modern one-story building was fully equipped, and at that time also included the Jesuit Faculty Dining Hall. The faculty moved to Lawler at its completion in 1955. New kitchen equipment was purchased in 1965. This building also houses the school Bookstore, and at one time the campus postoffice was located here. This was moved to new quarters in Lawler Hall in the 1960's.
The Music Hall was erected on Campion by Rev. Melchiors, S.J. and Assistants. Here, under the Professorship of Mr. Sid de Ranitz, the music department prospered, and many of Campion's well-known musical pro.ductions were planned and carried out. In the late 1960's and early 1970's and the emphasis on guitar and rock music - other music has had severe competition. However, the school continues its Music Department.
The Boat House erected near the Mississippi River. This was primarily for Jesuit use until the late 1960's when it was also used in connection with the teaching of Hydro-biology during the school year and Camp Prep.
On October 14, 1951 a beautiful Carrara marble Statue of St. Edmund Campion, S.J. patron of Campion was erected near the campus entrance. This Statue was carved by Domenico Mastroani of Italy, and this is where this statue came from.
Campion erects its First large road signs, and a number of other signs - about the campus.
New Lawler Hall was constructed. This was the Jesuit personal residence Hall entirely. However, it also became the School Administration building after the Kostka Hall Administration building was destroyed by fire on December 14, 1968. The administration has the east and central wings of the first floor, and the east wing of the basement area. This three story Autumn Leaf colored brick building was built during the term of Rev. Augustine Guinta, S.J., and the 75th anniversary of the school. Up to this time the Jesuit faculty lived in the Old Lawler wood building constructed in 1857.
Campion celebrates its 75th year in education.
Lucey Residential Hall for sophomores and juniors erected during the term of Rev. Corrigan, S.J. This four story brick building with basement will house 220 students plus eight faculty. This building was a great need at the height of Campion's growing enrollment of over 600. When this building was occupied Campion top floors were remodeled for use as class rooms: except for the dorms which were still occupied by the Freshmen.
Old Lawler Hall, the original building and gift of John Lawler to the Jesuits in 1870, was demolished and removed by a salvage firm. This was during the term of Rev. James Corrigan, S.J.
Land mark shelter in front of Campion Hall was removed, while much sentiment was attached to this, yet in itself it was not very attractive. It was therefore removed and became a rebuilt and remodeled part of the Superintendent complex of buildings on Parish Street.
Remodeling part of fourth floor Campion Hall.
New Superintendent of buildings and grounds maintenance building erected under the direction of Brother S. J. Staber, S.J., and during the term of Rev. Howard Kalb, S.J. This building is located on Parish Street aside of the school carpenter shop.
Hoffman Athletic Center with its huge gym, indoor swimming pool, cafeteria, and other facilities modern in all detail was erected during the term of Rev. Howard Kalb, S.J., and named after Campion's famed Coach William Hoffman.
Xavier Senior Residential Hall erected along Minnesota Street. This housed 128 as well as providing conference rooms, publications, T.V. and Recreation dark room, and a complete R.O.T.C. Headquarters also include a modern rifle range. This building was also erected during the term of Rev. Howard Kalb, S.J.
The remaining part of the 4th floor of Campion Hall remodeled for the physics, biology and chemistry departments.
Marquette Hall remodeled to provide for the living quarters of freshmen. Rooms formerly occupied by one senior were made to hold two by the use of Charles Metal Furniture, etc.
The Electrical, Heating and Plumbing Maintenance building erected on Parish street across from the Bioler House, planned by John Novey and Brother Staber and erected under the direction of Brother Staber by the Steiner Construction Company; this was during the term of Rev. J. Robert Hilbert, S.J.
In the summer of 1968 plans were going forward to remodel the upper floors of Kostka Hall. Kostka Hall had already been considerably remodeled in various areas - while remaining primarily the Administration Building, although plans to move part of the Administration offices to new Lawler Hall were already planned.
Kostka Hall, in September 1968, not only housed the Administration offices, but a 350 seat auditorium complete with Cinema Scope Screen, two 35 MM projectors, stage and stage equipment. It has a large Ball Room known as the "Cheese Castle", and a coffee house of three rooms in the sub-basement. In addition there was a fully-equipped Little Theatre; typing room; class rooms; study halls; Russian Studies; art rooms; student council offices; a radio station known as VOC; two hobby shops; an addressograph room; a Multilith printing office; also, twenty rooms for use by visiting teams.
Kostka Hall burned to the ground starting at 1:30 P.M. on Saturday, December 14, 1968. Fire began on the fourth floor and spread rapidly, mostly due to poor water pressure. Fortunately, the wind was exactly in the right direction; if it had been in its usual direction, or a variation either way, Campion Hall would surely have been burned also, or extensive damage would have been done to Xavier Residence Hall. One fireman was injured in the blaze. No students were hurt or faculty. All vital records were moved from the building. At the time of the fire Rev. Patrick Connolly, S.J. was the principal, and Rev. J. Robert Hilbert, S.J., president and superior of the school. Most of the graduation pictures, etc., were destroyed in the fire.
School went on as usual on Monday, December 16, as the Administration put into effect the plans for using Lawler. The first floor of Lawler Hall was adapted for offices, etc.
Plans started for the erection of a new building; an architect was engaged. A new class room complex planned of either one or more buildings. Planning for financing began.
The number of Black students accepted increased greatly and their integration into the school system speeded up.
The Jesuit Community and lay-staff strived to initiate Vatican Two directives. Tensions began to arise and polarization of viewpoints became evident culminating in December 1969 when the "Poem" incident triggered opposition and alarm. Racial tension became evident at about the same time, as well as confrontation on Theological, Liturgical and academic and disciplinary viewpoints all mixed with new ideas of freedom, liberty and life styles in living, dress and hair style.
New academic policies initiated in the form of unstructured classes and academic freedoms which made a student more individually responsible for his own study and progress - the academic content of some classes became matters of controversy. The disciplinary stance became confused not only for student but faculty as well. Alumni and parents expressed alarm in various ways.
Anti-war; anti-military; anti campus R.O.T.C. murmurs evident in various actions. Enrollment began to fall alarmingly. Budgeting matters became a point of concern.
R.O.T.C. terminates at Campion. This the Reserve Officers Training Corp began at Campion in 1919. Lack of participants and faith. Lt. Col. Louis DeVito last officer.
Burlington train and all passenger train service came to an end to Prairie du Chien and Campion on May 1.
Marquette Hall closed due to low enrollment. Freshman to Lucey Hall.
Campion infirmary closes. Began in 1921 and once required two regular nurses and daily visits by Doctor.
Brother Robert Daley, S.J. left on November 1, after 35 years as registrar and alumni contact director.
Brother Ed Gill, S.J. appointed treasurer succeeding Mr. Ted Ziegler.
Rudy Bouzek completed 50 years as maintenance employee at Campion.
One hundred and fourteen inner city students from Milwaukee etc., participated in Summer Prep.
Father James Hannon, S.J. who built the various shrines at Campion died on June 15.
Brother Staber became archivist.
Several Jesuits follow the life style and dress of the students with long hair and bearded faces.
The Ette ceased as a regular publication at the school.
Sister Maria, O.P. becomes first Nun on the Campion staff.
Drug problem shows up on the campus.
School begins study of the possibility of COED education.
Hydrobiology classes begin at Campion.
Twelve Juniors spent their junior year at Melk, Austria with Father Paul Mahowald, S.J.
Campion begins self-evaluation with the help of eight educators in December 1971.
The effects of racial crisis, disenchanted parents; enrollment decline and financial loss are still being felt in 1972 although more stabilized.
The writings, game outlines, pictures, trophies and other memorabilia of Coach Hoffman who had been coach at Campion for 50 years was loaned to Campion archives.
At age 18, youths now adults in Wisconsin, can buy intoxicating liquor, contract debts, etc. The law brings more drinking problems to Campion.
Many Elm trees fall - reaction to Elm disease on Campion's beautiful campus.
Campion Infirmary becomes a Day Care Center.
Some of Campion Jesuits and lay faculty involved in demonstration at store in Prarie du Chien because of alleged bill against Indians.
A number of Our Lady of the Angels student chapel pews were given to an Indian church in Baraboo, Wis. After new arrangement of the chapel, there were extras.
Campion Prep, during summer, completed its 5th year and Summer Campion Basketball camps continue to make progress.
Vandalism and damage to school property continues.
$900 (dollars) collected for Bangladesh refugees by students.
N.B.C. television makes chronolog of why R.O.T.C. ended at Campion.COED Weekends become a part of campus recreation program.
Mr. Robert Madigan, Campion's photographer of grads since 1947 died.
After the Jesuit faculty and lay faculty wanted to drop North Central Evaluation, the Board of Regents determined that the school submit to evaluation by the North Central Association.
On November 12, Campion hires its first Black teacher, Mr. Ed Smith, after several months of search and an explosive situation that developed at a faculty workshop.
November 29, difficulties with some students refusing to stand when the Star Spangled Banner was played.
Campion installed T.V. cable circuits in every room in Lucey and Xavier Halls.
WCBS, a closed circuit Campus radio station, becomes a reality.
The school encloses Lucey stair wells.
North Central accreditation received by Campion.
Fuel and energy crisis hit nation. Oil and gas prices skyrocket as does food costs.
Viet Nam war ended on January 27, after 11 years conflict and over 47,000 deaths.
Some Campion Jesuits opposed celebration of Marquette-Joliet 200th anniversary saying they had harmed the Indians.
May 5, 1973, Rev. Fr. General Peter Arrupe, S.J. not in favor of Campion going in for COED-Education and so informed Campion officials.
Father Hilbert leaves Campion; Father Gregory Lucey becomes acting Rector in June.
Campion's historic cannon erected in 1913 on Campion Boulevard Drive was donated on a permanent loan basis to the Medical Museum in Prairie du Chien, Wisc.
July 14, the big knotted Elm tree in front of Marquette Hall cut down; killed by Elm disease.
August 7-8, Campion's auction sale of wardrobes, desks and the surplus furniture.
Astronauts return to earth after 59 days in space and 25 million miles - shortage of fuel oil serious - for the first time 15 students graduated early in January, a departure from tradition.
Announcement that the Summer Prep Camp will not be here in 1973. Racial tension on campus and in city of Prairie du Chien, March 1.
School Policy Committee met on April 25 and came up with recommendations that alarmed some who felt it would force the school into bankruptcy.
Fred Gates finishes three years at Campion as Dean of Students and will be leaving.
School in real financial difficulty; first girl's basketball camp on July 8 - Aug. 2; enrollment down again; serious heat fuel shortage continues; students raise $1,200 for Sahehelian drought area in Africa. Statistics: Music department enrollment low; daily Mass attendance low.
Heat and energy shortages raise real problems with Campion's budget. Also, the cost of food has risen.
Campion experienced its first Streakers. Some concern that either the students or the faculty are absent too much from the campus.
March 20 - Governor Pat Lucey visits Campion and the students.
Watergate scandals a point of discussion.
Fuel oil continues to rise in price. Last year it was 12 cents a gallon; this year 33 cents.
Billions of dollars loss to crops in Western corn belt.
August 8 - President Nixon resigned as President of the U.S.A., the first President to ever do so.
Gerald Ford becomes President.
The School year ended on a tranquil note. One sign of the times is that the Halls are filled for summer activities but half empty during the school year.
Campion's Quest of a Century.
Plans going forward to have a major drive for funds and possible updating of facilities.
Considerable trouble with transfer students of which we have many.
October: Country Club atmosphere and attitude causes anxiety to some.
Considerable increase in disciplinary problems.
New Bridge opens across Mississippi River.
A series of happenings took place. Father Lucey's illness, Brother Staber to Hospital, Ed Zenz, Bursar, had heart attack. About December 10th a meeting was held of the Executive Committee. In general a feeling of frustration and discouragement working at cross purposes seemed to grip people.
About this time and into January of 1975 various events took place that seemed to pick up momentum. Several of the Jesuit staff, one by one, made known that they would not be at Campion for the 1975-76 school year. Some had made commitments to go to other Jesuit schools, to take up special studies, or to go into new type of apostolate altogether.
Several Scholastics would be going to theological studies. The principal, Jack Boor, made known he was leaving April 1, for a new job at New Richmond, Wisconsin. One of the young Jesuit scholastics simply announced he was leaving and did eventually leave the Society. These events along with the unwillingness of young or older Jesuits to come to Campion, and the reluctance of most Jesuits already here to make a long-time commitment (due to disagreements as to the disciplinary and other attitudes of school administration), along with the seeming lack of response to ads, etc., to get teacher personnel, and a look at the great increase of the Student Body with special personality and other problems which created a further need for special teachers or personnel and special facilities and presented further problems of discipline. These events in conjunction with the financial picture of the school due to the fact that about 50% of the student body was receiving some kind of aid or scholarship from the school hastened the inevitable.
These considerations came under scrutiny in a series of meetings held by the Executive Committee starting in December and to some extent discussed by the Board of Regents and those at the Provincial's offices (who were not too decisive due to the Provincial being in Rome for the 32nd General Congregation).
Beginning about February 18, 1975, the future of the school came up for discussion and the possibility of the closing. This was followed by a series of meetings of the Executive Committee and other Committees and individuals over a period of time. It was decided to ask the Wisconsin Province for help as to Jesuit manpower - as well as for financial assistance. On the matter of financial assistance it was thought something could be worked out. The matter of Jesuit manpower was another problem. The Province did not feel it could give the Jesuit manpower it would take, simply because there were very few young Jesuits available due to lack of vocations over a period of years.
It was decided to let the matter rest until the return of the Provincial, Fr. Bruce Biever, S.J., from Rome.
Accordingly, about a week after the Provincial's return from Rome the Province Consultors and other consultants and Father Gregory Lucey, S.J., and one other from Campion met on March 30, 1975, at the Provincial's office in Milwaukee.
It was decided, at this meeting, to ask Rev. Fr. General Arrupe, S.J., for permission to close Campion High School either in May 1975 or a year later whichever the school and province thought best. On Sunday, April 18th, Fr. Provincial announced to the Board of Regents that Rev. Fr. General had confirmed the closing of the school.
Announcement was made to the Jesuit Community on Good Friday evening - a rather appropriate time, and to the public press on April 9, 1975.
There was considerable bitterness by the lay teaching staff, as well as by some of the Jesuits, especially by those who had dedicated many years to Campion and its Apostolate. The student body was unhappy and several petitions and personal letters were sent to Fr. Arrupe in Rome, which were answered kindly, but the decision was to remain as made. The reactions of the alumni varied, but no concerted effort was made to purchase or take over the administration of the school.
The last graduation exercises took place on May 23 and 24, 1975 after which Campion ceased to be a secondary school of education.
On June 14, 1975, Father Gregory Lucey, S.J., resigned as President and acting Rector of Campion High School. His resignation was accepted by the Corporate Board of Trustees at Campion. Father Floyd Stanton, S.J., then assumed the duties of President and administrator.
The school was later placed in the hands of four realtors to be sold in its entirety if possible.
On October 24, 1975, an auction was held of non-basic school furnishings.
The lay-teaching, administrative, secretarial and maintenance staff were given generous severance pay or a pension according to the services of each individual employment record which ranged from two years to 44 years.
As of October 1975, the school has retained about 16 employees to keep the complex maintained, heated to a low degree and Security Guards.
The Jesuits remaining at Campion are Father John Scott, S.J., who is now the Jesuit Superior and had been teaching at Campion for 35 years; Brother Sylvester Staber, S.J., Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds who had been at Campion 26 years, and academic personnel. Brother Edward Gill, S.J., Treasurer; and, Father Edward Hipschen, S.J., Father Joseph Poeckes, S.J., Father Arnold Salchert, S.J., all retired Jesuits.
All other Jesuits were given new assignments at other Jesuit schools,
parishes or hospitals or engaged in special studies or theology. Lay teachers
obtained employment rapidly at other Jesuit, Catholic or Public schools
or further pursued academic studies.