412 Oak Street, Farmington, MN
There is nothing more lovely than a cute little church in a small town, especially one with red doors. Built in 1872, this church’s building style was suggested to the congregation by Bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple, and constructed according to plans found in Richard Upjohn’s 1852 book titled Upjohn’s Rural Architecture. The episcopal parish had been formed only the year before, and owing to the rural location and small congregation, the building was designed as a smaller version of the All Saints Church in Northfield, Minnesota, that was constructed six years prior by Bishop Whipple.
The exterior is a simple version of the Gothic Revival style, also know as Carpenter Gothic, and clad in board and batten vertical siding. The small detail of trefoil window on the front, as well as the small belfry, (not to mention the bright red doors), really make this church stand out. Three Gothic style stained-glass lancet windows line each side of the church, two of them being original to 1872 . The inside is much like it was 143 years ago, with its scissor-beam rafter construction and beautiful wood walls. The pews are original, also designed according to Upjohn’s book with small trefoil details at the end of each pew. The sanctuary was originally heated by a small iron stove, and illuminated by kerosene oil wall lamps. When I toured the church, my guide informed me that the bell, the first ever in Farmington, was made in the same foundry as the Liberty Bell.
Beginning in the mid-1920s and lasting into the 1930s, church attendance began to decline, partly due to the closing of the railroad yards and families moving away. Episcopal services were eventually haulted, but the church building was still maintained by some of the original families. It was also rented out by lutherans who later formed the Farmington Lutheran Church.
Over time, different parts of the building have been restored, and additions were added in the 1970’s to accommodate the growing needs of the parish. In 1979, the original building was added to the National Registry of Historic Places. Today, it is a shining beacon of preservation in the small town of Farmington, and an example that even the smallest buildings deserve to remain among us.