Archive for the ‘Historic Churches in Minnesota’ Category

Church of the Advent in Farmington

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Church of the Advent, Farmington, MN

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.

Historic Church of the Advent in Farmington

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.

Interior Sanctuary Church of the Advent

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.

Altar of Church of the Advent. Note the original kerosene oil lamp on the wall to the left of the altar.
The original Gothic chancel window was replaced by this round stained glass window in 1916.  It was given in memory of Dr. TenBroeck, who had died in 1913 after 51 years in the priesthood.
Rafter detail with scissor-beam construction.
Many of the original kerosene oil lamp brackets are still attached to their original location.

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Vermillion

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

St. John the Baptist in Vermillion is an imposing church for such a small town, but it serves a wide community stretching out to Hastings and even Farmington. The inside of the church is simply stunning and one of my favorite Minnesota historic churches. The painted murals are very unique, as are the large stained glass windows.

Built in 1882, the original church founders were quite the rebels. According to history, the local residents were tired of traveling to New Trier for Mass so they got together and decided to build a church of their own, all without the blessing of the local priest or the knowledge of the Bishop of St. Paul. They had no idea that 130 years later, the church would still be standing and remain a beacon to the local community.

First United Methodist Church in Red Wing

Monday, May 30th, 2011

403 East Avenue, Red Wing

The First Methodist Church of Red Wing was founded in 1853 and had a Greek Revival styled church constructed in 1858. One year later the church was damaged by a storm, and a new church was constructed on site in 1860. The Second Methodist Church of Red Wing survived until 1907 when it was destroyed by fire three days before Christmas. It took two years to construct the current structure (the Third Methodist Church now know as the First United Methodist Church) which was dedicated December 1909.

During the 1909 dedication, a times capsule was created by the congregation and placed behind the corner stone cap. One hundred years later, in 2009, the capsule was opened to reveal newspaper clippings, a hymnal, and a bible (just to name a few). The church was rededicated and a new time capsule was created with items chosen by the current congregation.
Learn more about the history of this church, including old photos of the First and Second Methodist buildings, and photos of the time capsule contents at the church website.
The current church was built with local quarried stone and has some beautiful gothic features, as seen in the above photo.

St. Catherine’s Catholic Church

Monday, November 15th, 2010

St. Catherine’s Catholic Church is located in Spring Lake Township, near Jordan, and has one of the best settings for a rural church. Sitting on top of a hill overlooking the local farmland, the church steeple can be seen for miles on the winding road. I am not sure of the exact date of construction, but the site was established as a church in 1866.

Church of St. Wenceslaus

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Located in New Prague, MN, St. Wenceslaus is a Catholic Church dedicated to St. Wenceslaus, Duke of Bohemia (you might recognize the name from the Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslaus“). The parish was first established in 1856-1857 by Bavarian settlers, with the current church built in 1906, after the previous building burned down. It is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

The church has an interesting page to their website with videos describing the meanings of some of their stain glass windows, presented by the students of the St. Wenceslaus school.

Aerial view of Church, 1935
Front view of Church, 1939

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

313 E. Second St, Jordan

St. John the Baptist, located in Jordan MN, is a gorgeous brick church located in the heart of downtown. Construction on the church began in 1889 at its current location, but is not the first church to be built in Jordan.

Church and Convent Photo, 1912
Aerial Photo of Church, 1973

The Homer United Methodist Church

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Outside of Winona is the small town of Homer, Minnesota. I have not been able to find out any historical information about this church, but it is a great example of small county parishes.

Swiss Inspired Church in Saint Paul

Monday, July 13th, 2009
German Presbyterian Bethlehem Church
311 Ramsey Street, Saint Paul

Built in 1890 by the infamous architect Cass Gilbert along with James Knox Taylor, this whimsical German church, in my opinion, invokes a Hansel and Gretel feel. With its shingle style architecture, the stone work looks like something out of Switzerland. Amazingly the church seems to fit perfectly in the hilly landscape and is hard to miss as you drive up Ramsey St to the Summit Avenue mansions. During World War I, the church was disbanded and is currently a professional building.

The Church of the Holy Comforter

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009
While driving through southeast Minnesota along the banks of the Minnesota, I came across the small town of Brownsville. On Main Street stands a simple Gothic style Episcopal church which was built in 1869 by Charles Brown, who founded the town in 1849. The Church was restored by the Houston County Historical Society in 1980. Though it is not currently in use, it is available by appointment and for weddings.

Historic Church in Shakopee

Thursday, February 5th, 2009
Update: This Church is No Longer for Sale

705 1st Ave, Shakopee, MN

Dan Peterson of Adam Commercial emailed me today to let me know about a historic building he has for sale in Shakopee. I am all about reuse of a building, instead of demolition, and even though I am still not quite sure about consecrated ground being used for other purposes, I would rather see it being renovated and saved, then deteriorating before my eyes.

Built in 1890 according to the Scott County Historical Society, this historic church is best known as St. John’s Lutheran Church. The church was first founded in 1860 as “The German Lutheran Church – St. Johannes”. It wasn’t until 1930 that the church became affiliated with the American Lutheran Church, and in 1940 that German services were discontinued (after 80 years of existence). In 1953, church services were moved to the present location on 8th St.

The building is currently used as a salon (Salon St. John), interior photographed below. As you can see, the current owner has done almost everything to preserve the interior character of the church, even making the salon mirrors in the same shape of the stain glass windows. The original murals are still present, too. Many updates have been completed, including modern mechanicals, upgraded electrical, kitchen, bathrooms, etc. With about 2700 square feet, the commercial building is for sale at $370,000.