Saint Anne's Chapel 
Raymond - Knowles, CA

Saint Anne's Beginnings:  An Idea Becomes A Reality

In the late 1800's and early 1900's, the town of Knowles had become a thriving community due to the granite quarries operating in the area.  Traditionally an area of large cattle ranches, the granite quarries brought a major industrial employer to the area which in turn spurred rapid population growth.  Raymond, CA, the adjascent community slightly to the west of Knowles, was known as the "Gateway to Yosemite".

 As Knowles continued to grow, it became apparent in 1918, that a larger school was needed to acccomodate the increasing number of school aged children.  The founder of the town of Knowles and then President of the Raymond Granite Company, Fred K. Knowles, donated 4.3 acres to the town on which to build a larger school.  In addition, Henry F. Starbuck, an Architect in Fresno, CA, was commissioned to design such a new school building.

In 1920, native granite was donated by the Raymond Granite Company and the new Knowles School was constructed.  The school consisted of three classrooms, two smaller rooms, a basement with two restrooms and a storage room.  The Knowles school continued to serve the community into the 1930's, with 60 students attending; grades 1 through 8.

Then, in 1942, the Raymond and Knowles school districts were consolidated and shortly thereafter, the Knowles school was closed. The building was abandoned and over the next 17 years, the structure fell into major disrepair.  

In 1959, John Alexander, President of the Cold Spring Granite Company and the Raymond Granite Company visited Knowles on a business trip.  Noticing that there was no church in the local area, and concerned the community and company employees had no place to worship, he remarked to an employee that the abandoned school house across the street would make a suitable building as a church.  Ironically, Alexander had previously conversed with Father Dominic Albertelli, O.S.J. (Oblates of Saint Joseph) the Pastor of Saint Joachim of Madera, on this very issue, and the Pastor made it known he was interested in the opportunity.

Mr. Alexander proceeded to research the property and building and discovered the ownership had reverted back to the owners of the surrounding area, Mr. and Mrs. Herb Buchenau, since the school was no longer in use.  After mentioning the Pastors interest, the Buchenau's graciously donated the property and building to the Diocese of Fresno.  Father Albertelli was then authorized by Biship Willinger to proceed and idea of Saint Anne's began to take form.  

On Sunday, January 8, 1961, Father Albertelli met with the local Catholics to discuss the conversion of the school to a Chapel.  Over the course of the next 13 months, the local community, with the aid of John Alexander and workers from the Cold Spring Granite Company in Minnesota, worked diligently to renovate the school and convert it into a Chapel.  An unexpected blessing came from Father Fabian Wegletner, of Saint Johns Abbey, Collegeville, MN, in the form of a full set of vestments, altar linens, cruets, altar boy cassocks, and a complete set of Stations of the Cross.

Finally, with great excitement and anticipation, on Easter Sunday, April 7, 1962, Saint Anne's Chapel was blessed by Father Mario Buttini, and assisted by Fathers John Grossi, Albert Marzani, and Lupe Sanchez.  Immediately following the blessing, the first Mass was celebrated.  The first parishioners were:

Mrs. Lou, Jerry, and Larry Bell
Mrs. Anita and Carol Fulmer
Mrs. Florine, Terry, Gary, Robbie, Connie, and Time Guillemin
Mrs. Emma Iverson
Mrs. Jean and Lourdes Sabordo
Helen and Anthony Schlicht
Ambrose Schlicht
Mrs. Rosemary, Theresa, Mickey and Matt Smith
Otto and Lillian Steigler
Mrs. Margarita Terragno
Bob, Rosemary, Mike, Chuck, Dan, Cindy, Sandy, Tom, and Mark Warnert

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