Archive for the ‘Historic Churches in Minnesota’ Category

St. John’s Lutheran Church in Chaska

Friday, January 16th, 2009

In 1884, St. John’s was organized into a congregation, and the first church building was built one year later. Tragically, like many historic churches, fire destroyed the building in 1921. The current grand church was built in its place around 1922, with a touch of Gothic Revival in its styling.

Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church in Minneapolis

Monday, September 8th, 2008

Built in 1910 and designed by Edwin Hawley Hewitt, St. Mark’s has been in Minneapolis for quite a while, and is in fact celebrating its 150th birthday this year. The church has an amazing history. Originally the church was located in downtown Minneapolis, but commerce forced the church to move to a location where parishioners could more easily access the parish. As luck would have it, the downtown land was worth a quarter of a million dollars, giving the church much needed money to relocate, and a generous parishioner sealed the deal when she offered part of her Loring Park estate for sale to the church.

Designed in the Gothic style, even though it was decades past the actual Gothic period, the building is extremely large and imposing. Sitting on top of a hill, the church overlooks Loring Park and the Walker Art Center. It is hard to photograph because it sits on a busy intersection and the best photo would probably come from the middle of the street, but there are also many large trees surrounding the cathedral which make it hard to see the great architectural details.

The Moravian Church in Chaska

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

This historic church was built in 1858 and is celebrating its 150th birthday this year in Chaska, Minnesota. The tower orginally had the entrance to the church behind the small pine tree at its base, as seen in this 1910 photograph, and a few additions have been added to expand the church.

Saint Mathias Catholic Church – Hampton

Friday, March 21st, 2008
Located in Hampton, Minnesota, St. Mathias Catholic Church was built in 1900, and like most small towns in the surrounding area, was founded by German and Luxembourger immigrants.

It is written in the Book of Acts, that Matthias was chosen as the next apostle to replace the traitor Judas. Saint Matthias lived till 80 A.D..

St. Mary’s Catholic Church – New Trier

Friday, January 25th, 2008

Earlier this summer I took a drive to Red Wing, Minnesota, along HWY 61. Along the drive, I went through a very small town called New Trier, Minnesota. This Beaux Arts designed building was finished in 1909 as the St Mary Catholic Church. The paint is so bright that you cannot miss it as you drive by, and the fact that it sits on a hill makes the church appear like it is looking over the community. It is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

The hill is actually called Mary Hill. The community of New Trier was founded by Catholic German immigrants and named after their hometown Trier in Germany. The first church was built in 1856, being a small log building. Eight years later it was replaced by a stone structure. The current church was designed by George J. Ries, who is better know to Saint Paul as the architect for Saint Agnes church on Lafond Avenue.

The Virginia Street Church in St Paul

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Located in Ramsey Hill, just a few blocks from downtown St Paul, sits this historic Minnesota church. The Virginia Street Church sit on Virginia Street and was built in 1886 by the famous local architect, Cass Gilbert.

Members of the Church practice the Swedenborgian faith which is based on the theology of a the Scandinavian scientist Emanuel Swedenborg. Their beliefs are represented in the construction materials. For example, the stones which support the structure represent fixed truths which will not change and “solidity of an enduring faith in Jesus Christ”.

The church is very simple, but the architectural details are reminiscent of the Queen Anne Victoria. The church has changed little in the last 121 years of its life, the interior still possesses the terra-cotta painted walls and pine wainscoting. The pews are made of ash and the original lead glass windows are still passing sunlight into the peaceful sanctuary. It even has an old pipe organ that was given to the church in 1919.

The Church of St Peter – the Oldest Parish in Minnesota

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

The Church of St Peter was founded in 1840 by Father Lucien Galtier, a priest who was sent by the local Catholic Bishop to care for the settlers and Indian population. He was only 29 at the time, a newly ordained priest, and his territory extended all over Dakota County.

Located on the banks of the Minnesota River, the area was originally inhabited by the Dakota (Sioux) Indians. When settlers arrived in the early 1800’s, they called the place St Peter. It wasn’t until 1852 that the name was changed to Mendota, meaning “meeting of the waters”. If you look on a map, Mendota is located where the Minnesota River and Mississippi River merge together.

The church shown in the photo was constructed in 1853, to replace the log cabin that had been used for the previous ten years. It was constructed with local limestone and hand-cut split shingles, and cost $4,500 to build.

The steeple has had its own share of excitement over the years. The original was very short and had no bell, being blown down in the 1880’s. The next replacement was taller and had a bell this time, but it only lasted 65 years when a tornado came through and destroyed it. In 1953, the current tower was constructed to celebrate its 100 year anniversary.

You can imagine that a building this old would one day need to be restored. In the late 1970’s a major restoration operation was begun at a cost of over $200,000. The limestone was cleaned, the steeple repaired, trusses and framework replace, etc. Today the “Historic Church” is only used for special events and weekday masses.

The Church of St Peter is a great architectural example of early church construction. It should be as it is the oldest Catholic parish in the entire state of Minnesota!