History lies hidden in Solon Springs couple's garage
When Phil and Carol Wester bought their Solon Springs home -- the former rectory for St. Mary of Good Counsel -- in 1968, Phil never paid much attention to the stone that appeared to be holding up a shelf in the corner of his small garage. He nev...
When Phil and Carol Wester bought their Solon Springs home -- the former rectory for St. Mary of Good Counsel -- in 1968, Phil never paid much attention to the stone that appeared to be holding up a shelf in the corner of his small garage. He never imagined that an important piece of the church where he and Carol were married more than 50 years ago rested in his garage.
Recently, however, the retired builder decided it was time to clean out the garage after years of accumulating tools and supplies. During the cleanup, a close glimpse revealed something Phil Wester never noticed before -- the years 1906 and 1942 engraved in the stone.
Phil knew there was something special about the stone. It was marked with the years St. Mary was built on the hill in the corner of what today is the Catholic cemetery. The latter year reflects when the church was moved down the hill to a more accessible location on First Street in Solon Springs.
"I knew what it was right away," Wester said. After all, another building the couple owns sits on the original foundation of the church. He knew a cornerstone had been removed from that foundation when a new Catholic church was constructed in the mid-1950s.
Wester thought he'd need a jack to raise the shelf, but discovered it never rested on the block.
"When they built the church, they must have plumb forgot about it," Wester said.
But the cornerstone was more than a piece of carved rock marking the building's history. Upon closer inspection, Wester discovered a wooden block in the stone plugging a square hole.
"It still had the block in it; it had never been opened. So I pried away and got this wooden block out of there," Wester said. "Inside of it was the Evening Telegram, all folded up in there ... and underneath it were some papers. The papers were all disintegrated, but you could see some of the signatures."
Among those names was Fr. Aug. Gagnon, the first priest of the newly constructed St. Mary of Good Counsel Church in Solon Springs. The May 21, 1906, edition of the newspaper found in the time capsule contained a hand-written note on the first page, referring the finder to Page 10, where an article reveals the story of the cornerstone.
Today, St Mary is known as St. Pius X on Business Highway 53 in Solon Springs. Frank Giesen, a St. Pius X member, said he plans to make copies to display the church's history in the local museum.
"It was amazing," Giesen said. "It was a historic thing for him to find ... in the history of the Catholic Church in Solon Springs, that was a remarkable thing to find."