On the way home from the Abbey of the Hills, I stopped through Webster, South Dakota because a friend recommended a visit to the round church there. It wasn’t too hard to spot the steeple as I drove into downtown from Highway 12 and it was worth it.
The Christ the King Catholic Church was dedicated in December 1966 and designed by Ralph R. Koch with Koch, Hazard, & Associates of Sioux Falls [in the AIA Directory for 1970 online]. The priest at the time, Father Mardian, and the building committee oversaw the construction. According to the church’s Centennial Directory in 1984, the design was chosen to draw eyes towards the altar and to reflect the tents of the Old Testament, which were places to encounter God.
The parish started in 1884 as St. Otto’s Parish. It was a German ethnic community and they requested a German-speaking priest that first year, Father Henry Mensing, who had immigrated with his parents and was ordained in Pierre, SD in 1884. He was responsible for organizing the construction of a church and leading ten additional mission churches. Their first church was built in 1888, school buildings in 1893 and 1911, and a convent for the teachers in 1960, the latter of which was remodeled in 1982 to serve as a parish center after the school closed. The new name, Christ the King, was chosen when they built the new church in 1966. According to a sign in the church, the bell tower was erected in 1978. It was built by Terry Gaikowski and posted the bell from the original St. Otto’s Church. [Source: Centennial Directory, Christ the King Catholic Church, Webster, South Dakota, 1984].
The architect, Ralph Richard Koch, was born in 1928 in Omaha and graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1951. Moving to Sioux Falls, he worked for the architectural firm of Hugill, Blatherwick, Fritzel, & Kroeger until becoming a registered architect in 1957. He then worked for Howard Parezo before starting his own firm in 1961. Koch retired in 1992 and passed away in August 2014. In 1969, his partnership with Bob Hazard started a firm that is still active today. [Sources: obituary online, AIA Directory for 1970 online, memorial article on Koch-Hazard’s website, and Plain Design: Architecture on the Northern Plains. Sioux Falls SD: Koch-Hazard Architects, 2011].
And the photos… starting with the exterior:
Upon entering the church…
The incredible sanctuary… it’s circled by stained glass – the color is sort of blown out of the first two photos.