Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Know Nebraska: Anselmo and St. Anselm's Catholic Church

We headed north out of town and took the Broken Bow cut off. When we got to Highway 2/92, we turned north, so didn't actually go into Broken Bow. We followed the BNSF tracks past the tiny community of Merna with its Anselmo-Merna consolidated school on to the community of Anselmo.
The aptly named "Cathedral of the Sandhills" - St. Anselm's Catholic Church.

Fortunately, the doors were open and we got to enjoy the stunning interior.
The first sight that caught our eye is the "Cathedral of the Sandhills", St. Anselms Catholic Church. It makes sense that a community named Anselmo could be named after St. Anselm, but it doesn't sound as if this is the case. Anselmo is the name of the founder of the town, and the Cathedral - built in 1928 - followed. 
The rectory.
None of that takes away from the magnificence of the church, though. Fortunately, the doors were open and we could venture in for photos. There is a book inside with the history of the church. Sadly, there weren't any brochures or pamphlets to take away. I would gladly have dropped some coin in the collection plate to be able to have the info with me.
The parish hall - the original church.
Next door is the parsonage, and further west from that is what I took to be the original church, though there is no signage whatsoever to confirm this theory. Wikipedia confirmed this, and we also learned that the entire complex, consisting of four buildings was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.
Anselmo centennial mural
Downtown Anselmo has seen better days. Though a mural celebrates its centennial, its glory days are definitely behind it. The Masonic Temple/post office does sport new Anderson Windows, but since the stickers are still on them, it doesn't look as if it is in regular use.
Post office and Masonic Temple
According to the University of Nebraska history of Anselmo, rather than being founded by early settlers, Anselmo was actually founded by the railroad, which needed another point for water and coal. Might this explain the lack of civic pride in Anselmo? Or is the state of the community simply a result of the depopulation of this area of the Sandhills?
Anselmo street view.

I believe this is the grocery store, but it wasn't open.

A necessity in a rural Nebraska community - the Volunteer Fire Department

The former bank, and a former restaurant.

An historical display in the downtown park, This is possibly the opera house, also included is a sod house and the original jail - all in a very bad state of disrepair.

The Burlington (BNSF) still passes through town regularly.

The Anselmo community hall. It might still be in use, but is pretty dilapidated.

One of the saddest sights of all. A large collection of classic cars, in a building whose roof is caved in.
The Catholic church is definitely worth a visit, and exploring some of the other unique buildings on the main street is worthwhile, but it won't take you very long.


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