Sauk City, Wisconsin, Freie Gemeinde

Sauk City, Wisconsin, Freie Gemeinde

The Free Congregation (Freie Gemeinde) of Sauk County was established at Sauk City in 1852 by a group of German Freethinkers who left Germany after the failure of the liberal revolution of 1848, seeking freedom to practice their strong belief in the ability of human beings to reason for themselves without interference from governmental and religious authorities. It is today the only remaining Freie Gemeinde in the United States, having survived, in part, by merging—in its own distinct manner—with the Unitarians.

Freie Gemeindehalle (known now as Park Hall) in Sauk City was designed by Alfred Clas and built in 1884. It serves as the home for today’s Free Congregation of Sauk County—a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship—as well as for the library and music archives of the congregation. Sally Konnak has undertaken to describe the library and music collection and the results of her efforts are available here in PDF format. Many of the descriptions include annotations, inscriptions, and signatures, usually made by prominent Sauk City and Free Congregation families.

Books, pamphlets, newspapers, and periodicals (PDF, 71 pages)

Music archives (PDF, 39 pages)

The Free Congregation invites scholars, historians, students, musicians, music teachers and other interested parties to review the online bibliographies and catalog. The Congregation is currently in the process of renovating the library for secure temporary storage of the materials, professionally evaluating the historical significance of the collection, and considering if and how best to store and/or disperse the materials over the long term.

For more information, please contact:

Michael Whaley, Administrator
The Free Congregation of Sauk County
307 Polk Street
Sauk City , WI 53583
(608) 643-3131


Karl Heinzen

Among the many treasures at the Free Congregation (Freie Gemeinde) of Sauk County, Wisconsin, are two framed portraits of Karl Heinzen. Heinzen (1809-1880) was a radical democrat and champion for the rights of women and African Americans, as well as a host of other political, economic, and social reforms. He edited his famous Der Pionier in the U.S. for more than a quarter century.
One portrait may be viewed by clicking here.