In the early 1920's, a small village known as Ives was located north of the city of Racine on Douglas Avenue. The village was a wild town known for taverns and gambling dens. In 1925, Augustinian priests and brothers arrived and they forever changed the nature of Ives. They purchased what had been a bowling alley and later a cabbage warehouse and converted it into a chapel on the first floor and a monastery on the second. The building was dedicated on August 29, 1926. South of the chapel / monastery stood Ives Inn, a tavern which constantly ran afoul of the prohibition laws and was a hotbed of crime and vice. The Augustinians purchased the building and converted it into a parish hall. The Ives Hotel, another establishment known for the illegal sale of alcoholic beverages adjoined the chapel / monastery to the north. The Augustinians also purchased this building and in September, 1929, St. Rita School opened with seventy pupils under the direction of two Dominican sisters from St. Catherine's Convent. The parishioners came from fifteen different nationalities, and the first pastor, Father Alpius Reuter, worked in nine languages to communicate with his people. Through the efforts of Father Reuter, the name of the area was changed from Ives to St. Rita.
Because the parish steadily grew and accommodations were also needed for growing numbers of priests and brothers in the Order, it became necessary to look for more land on which to build a larger monastery and church. Many proposals were made and rejected. Finally, after a Novena to our Patroness, St. Rita, the forty-acre Horlick farm was sold to the Augustinians in 1935. On the Feast of St. Rita in 1941, the cornerstone was laid for the church and monastery and the building was solemnly blessed on the Feast of Pentecost, 1942.
In 1952, the parish purchased the North Racine School (now Lathrop Furniture on Hwy. 32) to accommodate the parish's growing school enrollment. Only three years later, the first five rooms of the current school building were completed and occupied by grades one through four. The following year, grades five through eight moved into the east wing addition. The gym, kitchen and science room additions in 1966 completed the physical plant. Today St. Rita Parish has approximately 1300 member families and continues to be served by priests and brothers who are members of the Order of St. Augustine.
After years of liturgies and sacramental celebrations, over many generations of faithful St. Rita parishioners, it became apparent that the church was no longer large enough or accessible enough to serve the needs of the growing parish. In October 2005, our new church building was dedicated, a fully accessible and uplifiting worship space. The beautiful stained glass windows were brought from the old church to the new one, along with the Stations of the Cross. The old church building has been renamed Cascia Hall, and the prior worship space is now used by various parish groups for meetings,events and various activities. The church, our day care, and our K-8 elementary school continue to serve families in the Village of Caledonia and in the greater Racine area, in the Augustinian tradition.