La Crosse Cathedral restoration nears completion despite delays and challenges, leaders say

La Crosse Cathedral holds ceremony marking progress made on restoration project

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – The makeover of one of La Crosse’s most prominent buildings nears completion. The last time News 8 Now spoke to the project’s architect he said one stone fell off the tower and stuck six inches into the frozen ground, an obvious safety hazard leaders wanted to fix.

This project came with challenges over two years, but on Thursday a ceremony reminded its leaders about what these walls mean to La Crosse. In life, things don’t always go according to plan.

“You gotta go through some difficulties, but on the other end there’s something good,” said Monsignor Richard Gilles, rector at St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral.

Gilles hoped to see the final results of St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral’s grand makeover.

“Did I want it all to be done by Christmas time? Sure,” Gilles said.

Even so, the project grows closer to completion.

“You just kinda take it day by day,” Gilles said.

This space reminds the project’s architect why this restoration is personal.

“It means everything,” said Stephen Mar-Pohl, of InSite Consulting Architects.

Mar-Pohl grew up with this diocese. For him, this runs in the family.

“Two of my sons are working on this project right now,” Mar-Pohl said.

A project with two things in mind. Safety in the community.

“With pieces falling to the ground, it was a wake-up call that people’s lives were being threatened, their safety,” Gilles said.

Along with restoring a place where people grow in their faith.

“This is where people’s lives unfold,” Gilles said.

Even those who have never stepped foot inside can’t help but notice its mark on La Crosse’s skyline.

“This is about the city of La Crosse too,” Gilles said.

In life, the completion of one project always proceeds the beginning of the next one.

“I’m not ready for next, I’m just done with next. You can put that on the record,” Gilles said with a laugh.

For now, leaders will enjoy this day.

“Yeah, it’s a great day,” Mar-Pohl said.

A day of changed plans, but a constant goal — preserve a piece of La Crosse history that stood tall for many generations, and will continue to stand for generations to come.

The goal is to have everything wrapped up by June 1. Crews have finishing touches to complete on the building’s exterior when the weather warms up. Work started inside the Cathedral this week. Project organizers ask for people’s patience because, like most of the past two years, plans can change.