ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Wisconsin Bible Training School



Pratt House, or the old Faith House


Watertown, Wisconsin City Directory, 1889




A suggestion has been made to us of converting the Faith Home in the Fifth ward into a hospital to be placed in charge of some Catholic sisters.  Of course, the suggestion is based on the idea that the Faith Home is about to be given up and sold.  The needs for a hospital are often felt here, and the project is worth entertaining.



228 Margaret Street

Same as residence for James R. Pratt, School President


W. C. Stone, Secretary  (W. C. Stone was the son of Jesse Stone, co-owner of an early cookie and cracker factory and who went on to become lieutenant governor of Wisconsin) [Wright’s Directory of Watertown, 1899-1900].


The articles of incorporation for Wisconsin Bible Training School indicate no church or organized group behind its founding.  The 3 signers were:


      J. R. Pratt (James)

      J. O. Buswell

      W. C. Stone


WBTS was incorporated on August 11, 1897. Classes were already being held as of July, 1897, and it ran until December, 1899.  The founders let the corporation slide and it wasn't formally disbanded (involuntarily, it says) until December 31, 1985.    [M D Mitchem, contributor]


The Christian Endeavor of the Congregational Church will give a reception this evening at the church parlors in honor of the teachers and students of the Bible Institute.  The church members are all cordially invited to attend.


The physical culture class at the Bible Institute is now well organized.  Miss Robinson would like to meet every member of the class in the Institute chapel at 8:30 Wednesday morning.  Anyone wishing to join the class will be admitted at that time.        Watertown Daily Times, 07 20 1897



A few days ago a handbill distributed about the city announcing an auction sale of household furniture, utensils and furnishings at the Wisconsin Bible Institute in the Fifth ward caused no little interest among many of our citizens and was the occasion of considerable comment. 


From this handbill, it appears, the impression was first gained that the institute was about to go out of business - that its goods and chattels were to be knocked down to the highest bidder and its doors closed on the good work it had sought to accomplish. 


It will be remembered that the institute was located here in the spring of 1897 by a popular movement of our people and the old Faith Home building furnished for the use of the institute by personal subscriptions amounting to over $500. 


Of course, these subscriptions were giving freely and without reservation, many being actuated in their donations by the supposition that the movement was for the material interests of Watertown and that the institute was to be a permanent affair.  Others no doubt gave solely from a philanthropic standpoint and perhaps cared not for the material results to the city. 


Now, after an existence of two and one-half years, the institute people dispose of the donations, shake the dust of Watertown from their feet and decamp for other fields, all of which they without a doubt have a perfect right to do, but not without causing a ripple of interest and some words of comment not altogether favorable. [12 30 1899]




The physicians of Watertown held a meeting Friday evening in the office of Dr. J. M. Sleicher for the purpose of discussing the project of establishing a hospital here.  There were present Drs. Spalding, Eter, Whyte, Moulding, Feld, Werner . . . . After the matter had been talked over at length, it was resolved that it would be inexpedient at the present time for the city to purchase the Faith home building, for the reason that the same could not be properly maintained as a hospital.  However, the impression seemed to prevail that there ought to be a hospital of some sort in the city . . . .




Large Medical Institute to be located at Faith Home in this city 


A large medical corporation in Chicago, with a paid up capital of $200,000, has made arrangements to buy the “Faith Home” property in the Fifth ward of this city and convert the same into a general sanitarium, to be used as a branch in connection with their home institution in Chicago.  The sanitarium here at Watertown will be equipped with all modern apparatuses, including static machines for X Ray and therapeutic work, electric fans, electric baths, etc. It will have a special department for the curing of drunkenness, morphine and all forms of drug addiction which are so prevalent among all classes of people.


This institution does not come to the city of Watertown asking for a bonus or free will donations but will be a permanent business institution and as such, in order to secure the entire support and cooperation of the city, will give local capitalists, and business men an opportunity to buy a limited amount of stock in the corporation.


The establishing of the Watertown branch of this institution is promoted by the Bankers’ Investment Cos. of Chicago and the reputation of this company is sufficient to warrant the success of the enterprise. The president of the Bankers’ Investment Cos. and the vice-president of the Medical Institute will come to Watertown next week to make final arrangements for the furnishing and equipping of the sanitarium building.


It is hoped that when these gentlemen come, they will receive cooperation and encouragement in regard to this matter from our citizens, as it is a conceded fact that a sanitarium would add greatly to the conveniences and welfare of the people of Watertown.





Former Bible institute or faith healing facility became Bethesda Lutheran Home school, then a revival colony.  House on left was pastor’s or director’s residence.  In 1909, third floor removed and building converted into apartments.





The Pratt House, or the old Faith House, was originally used as a Bible institute and faith healing establishment.   Built in the late 1880s, it became the Watertown Bible Academy and then, in 1904, it was where Bethesda Lutheran Home was founded.


W. P. Weisdrod of Fall Creek, principal of the Lutheran Home for Feebleminded to be built here, arrived in the city a few days ago and has taken up his residence at the Faith Home building in the Fifth Ward, which will be used for the feeble-minded until the new home is built.  The Faith Home building will be ready for patients on April 13th. [Watertown Daily Times, 02 14 1904]


Last Friday the executive committee of the Board of Directors of the Lutheran Home for the Feeble Minded, of this city, met here and made plans for remodeling the Faith House, which will be used temporarily. They expect to have the building ready for occupancy April 12th.  At the meeting R. D. Hoennann was appointed physician for the home. [Watertown Daily Times, 03 02 1904]


Dr. W. Tarles, of Milwaukee, part owner of the building known as the Faith Home, was in the city on Tuesday.  He intends conducting the place into a hospital in 1906, when the present lease expires.    Watertown Daily Times, 08 26 1904




The Board of Trustees of the Lutheran Home for Feeble-Minded held a meeting in this city last Thursday for the purpose of hearing a report of Supt. W. K. Weissvrodt and for the transaction of other important matters.


At present there are about thirty inmates at the Home.  The trustees are more than satisfied with the results attained thus far during the past nine months.  The unfortunate little inmates have truly made wonderful progress; in many cases where the mental faculties were very poor when taken in charge, there is noticeable and astonishing improvement and development. This is especially noticeable in the school room and at table.  The report of the treasurer shows that while a considerable sum, amounting to some hundreds, has been realized from gifts, the total still leaves a small deficit, which is hoped, will disappear when the balance of the holiday gifts come in.


It was also determined that the matter of erecting a new Home must be taken up at once.  The demands for a large, modern institution are urgent and must be met without delay.  To this end the trustees will send out an authorized representative to the various congregations to gather subscriptions.






Carl Nowack had three sons: William, who became a missionary to China; Carl who continued in the funeral business; and Louis, who became a doctor. There was a jest in the family that the three brothers - medic, mortician and missionary - could conduct any person through life into the beyond.


William Nowack met his first wife while they were students at the Faith House on Margaret Street.  He later wrote a book [My Ebenezer, about his experiences in China. In 1930 Carl Nowack built the first funeral home in Watertown.] It marked the change from the old custom of displaying the body of the deceased in his own home and placing a crepe on the door. [Kiessling, Watertown Remembered]



09 22       Rev. and Mrs. William H. Nowack and baby depart October 3rd, for Seattle, from which city they will sail on the tenth of the month for China where they will engage in missionary work in the province of Chihlill, which is about twice the size of Massachusetts, containing a population of ten million souls.  Mr. Nowack is a Christian gentleman of culture and refinement, who is willing to devote his life to the work of his Master in a foreign land among strange people. The first year after reaching their field of future labor, Mr. Nowack will attend a mission school in order to familiarize himself with the language, and study the characteristics of the people to whom he must preach the gospel of regeneration and redemption.




The Faith Home building in the Fifth ward is being remodeled for residence purposes.  The third story is being taken off and the other two stories are being fitted out with all modern improvements.  It will be arranged to accommodate three families.   WG



-- --           APARTMENTS






Bishop Karl A. Mueller, D.D., formerly of Watertown and now residing at Park Ridge, Ill., will officiate here on Sunday at the Moravian church, North Sixth and Cole streets, when Kenneth W. Nowack, of this city, is ordained a minister in the Moravian church.  The services are to be held at 10 a.m. Bishop Richard Mewaldt, Madison, will deliver the ordination sermon.


The Rev. Victor L. Thomas, Pastor of the Moravian church, will serve as liturgist.


Graduated in May


Mr. Nowack graduated from Moravian Theological seminary in May. His undergraduate work was done at Wheaton College.  He is the son of Carl F. Nowack of this city. Mrs. Nowack will be received as an acolyte following heir husband's ordination.


The Nowacks will leave for Costa Rica sometime this summer for a period of language study after which they will serve as missionaries in Nicaragua.


Sunday afternoon the young minister will be a guest at the Mamre Moravian Church which will be celebrating its annual mission festival and anniversary. He will be introduced at the afternoon service at 2:30 p.m.




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History of Watertown, Wisconsin