Notre Dame was Chippewa County’s first church, the mother church of all area Catholic Churches. Originally called St. Mary’s (“Our Lady of the Pines”) was a 16 x 18-foot log structure erected in 1856. A carpenter’s bench served as the first altar.
The church served a small parish of Indians, half-breeds, Irish, French, Scots, Poles, and Germans. On May 27, 1869, Father Charles F. X. Goldsmith came to Chippewa Falls. He immediately began to work for the erection of a new suitable church building. Work began on Notre Dame Church in the spring of 1870 and was completed in 1872.
It was built of native stone from a nearby quarry located in present day Irvine Park. The huge stone blocks were hauled by horse cart to this site. Across the street was the small three room First Ward City School. In May of 1881, Father Goldsmith notified the Board of Education he wished to purchase the school to establish a parochial institution.
On September 27, 1881, the school opened in charge of the School Sisters of Notre Dame / Milwaukee. The growing parish erected the present school building in 1924. Father Goldsmith died on November 24, 1890. The red brick Memorial Chapel directly east of the Notre Dame Church was erected in his memory in 1894, and his remains lie buried beneath the altar.