It’s all come full circle for Peggy Cramer, Gardner.
Born and raised in Gardner, Peggy’s grandfather, dad and uncles helped build the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, located on the northeast corner of Center and Warren Streets. Her nephew, Father Joe Cramer, now serves as the church’s priest. The church building turns 100 years old this October.
“It kind of rounded the corner with the old church and having (Father Joe) here. I’m spoiled rotten,” Peggy said.
Peggy wasn’t yet born when Bishop John Ward dedicated Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Gardner on Oct. 2, 1912, but she’s spent many masses in the pews of the old church, which served Gardner Catholics for 92 years until the new church was dedicated in 2004.
The local congregation is older than the church building on Warren Street. Catholics in Gardner began worshiping together as early as the 1850s.
The “old’ Sacred Heart Church building is really the “old, old” church building as a small log church preceded the construction of the building familiar to current Gardner residents.
By 1870, more than 15 local families from Gardner, Edgerton and Olathe joined to build a small log church at the corner of Center and Warren Streets. They opened and dedicated the new parish, “St. Columba” in 1875.
The congregation outgrew St. Columba in the early 1900s, and the parish contracted J.M. “Jud” Cramer and Homer Eyerly to build a new church on the same location. The old building was moved to Main Street, where it was used for an indoor basketball court and a town hall.
Peggy knows the old, old church as the “Cordell House.” Steve Cordell purchased the building after it was burned in a 1916 fire.
“Mr. Cordell moved the old church up from downtown and then added a top floor for his family, because he had such a big family,” Peggy said.
Cordell moved the house from its Main Street location to 107 E. Warren, right across the street from its original home. It still stands today.
Meanwhile, church members dedicated the new building as Sacred Heart Catholic Church, and the congregation continued to grow.
Parishioner Patrick Hamilton presented a bell to the church in memory of his mother, Margaret. It was dedicated on Oct. 15, 1921, and when the new church was constructed in 2004, the bell was transferred from the Warren Street location to the new church.
The stained glass windows, many dedicated in honor of former congregants, were also moved to the new church building.
According to Peggy, the church services haven’t changed much with the new building.
“One thing, we have room to spread out now,” Peggy said.
Church leaders have been discussing the future of the old church building, now in its 100th year. It’s currently used as classroom space and for storage.