For over 150 years, the Church of St. Anne has been a faithful place of worship and pillar in the community of Somerset. Our roots began with the settlement of Somerset in the early 1850s by French-Canadians. These first pioneers were men and women of great faith and would often get traveling priests to come and say Mass in the log cabin home of Thomas Parnell. Before too long, there wasn’t a home big enough to accommodate all the people who came for Mass. And so, the first church was built with logs by the new settlers in 1856 high on the bank above the Apple and St. Croix Rivers. It was called St. Joseph Church. In 1864, Fr. Stehle of Hudson changed the name to St. Vincent de Paul, and in 1873, Fr. Henry Wirtz came to Somerset as its first resident priest. He also served missions in St. Croix Falls, Long Lake, Farmington, Balsam Lake, Bear Trap, Wagon Landing, Burkhardt, Clayton, Clear Lake, and Turtle Lake.
By 1874, the parish had outgrown the original building. A larger brick church was built in 1875 on the east of the Apple River on a hill overlooking the Village of Somerset. In 1883, the parish cemetery was moved from the original site on the St. Croix to its present site next to the church. The original church was dismantled in 1886 and the timbers were used to build a school alongside the new church.
In 1898, Bishop Schwebach of LaCrosse placed the parish under the patronage of St. Anne, a favorite of French Canadians. 1908 brought the opening of a new three-story school which also contained living quarters for the teachers from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Crookston, Minnesota.
By 1916, the church was too small, so Mr. E.L. Masquery, who had designed the Cathedral in St. Paul and the Basilica in Minneapolis, was contracted to design a church for Somerset under the supervision of Fr. Eugene Caron. The beautiful new Church of St. Anne was dedicated on August 26, 1917 by Bishop Joseph Maria Koudelka of Superior.
The coming years brought more expansion, building, and renovations. Under the supervision of Fr. Walter Beaudette, an Army Captain who had just returned from war, a new convent for the sisters was built in 1920. Fr. Beaudette served as a loving pastor of our parish for twenty-seven years, and was succeeded by Fr. John T. Rivard. In 1956, the present school was built, opening in 1956 with 263 students.
In 2000, the people of St. Anne’s once again came together to raise funds for the addition of the Beaudette Centre with an elevator, new church offices, and a gathering space for parishioners.
After the number of sisters dwindled and the Sisters of St. Joseph were no longer a part of St. Anne’s, the former convent became Grace Place in conjunction with the Salvation Army. Grace Place served as a transitional shelter for the area, housing many in need throughout the years. When Grace Place moved to bigger facilities in New Richmond, the former convent became the Somerset Community Food Pantry and still serves our community in that capacity.
Beyond the building projects, additions, and renovations, St. Anne’s continues to be a vibrant faith community where the Catholic faith of our early church founders is celebrated, taught, and nurtured. May we continue to live out our faith with hope and trust in the Lord!