At HighwayHighlights.com, we love lists. It’s fun to scour the state, come up with the best and the weirdest, itemize them, and share them. So we’re are back at it with another Top 10 list this week. We have covered churches before at HH, looking at Minnesota’s most beautiful churches, the ones in Stearns County, and now we look at the Top 10 most unique-looking structures used as churches in Minnesota. Enjoy!
10. First Unitarian Church, Duluth – This little whimsical gem has graced the pages of HighwayHighlights before. The First Unitarian Church is a Tudor-style building with half-timber and stucco framework and locally quarried black granite. It looks like a charming little fairytale house right out of Lord of the Rings.
9. Green Lake Stave Church, Spicer – Although not the only Stave Church in Minnesota (Moorhead has a bigger one), the Green Lake Stave Church outside of Willmar on Green Lake is a beautiful little replica of the Norwegian Stave churches from the 12th Century. It was built in 1940 for abut $3000 and still holds seasonal church services and weddings to this day.
8. St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Edina – Mid-Century Modern architecture signifified the end of the Art Deco/International movement, coming in with sharp, dramatic angles, and clean, organic shapes. A good majority of buildings in Minnesota that display this style were churches, including St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Edina.
7. Lakewood Memorial Chapel, Minneapolis – Located inside of Lakewood Cemetery, the Memorial Chapel was built in 1910 and modeled after the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey and serves as the architectural focal point of the cemetery. Its chapel dome is 65 feet high and ringed with stained-glass windows that serve as a sundial telling the time of day and season. The interior also features a mosaic made of marble, colored stone, and glass fused with gold and silver.
6. United Methodist Church, Thief River Falls – Another quirky Mid-Century Modern church, this time in the northwestern town of Thief River Falls, the United Methodist church stands out with its conical shaped roofline that comes down to the doors.
5. St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Lake St. Croix Beach – One of very few Spanish Mission-style churches in Minnesota, the Catholic church in Lake St. Croix Beach sits overlooking the St. Croix River on the Wisconsin border surrounded by pine trees, but feels like it should be in Arizona.
4. Wayman African Methodist Church, Minneapolis – Another Mid-Cenury Modern gem, the African Methodist Church in North Minneapolis was built in 1967, although its congregation dates back to 1919. It features a round central building with an inverted, horn-shaped cone on top.
3. Church of St. Columba, St. Paul – A mixture of several-types of architecture including Mid-Century Modern, French Norman, and a little Art Deco, the Church of St. Columba in St. Paul’s Hamline-Midway neighborhood was influenced by a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed church in Kansas City. It features a cylindrical steeple and an overhead profile resembling a fish and was built in 1949.
2. Redeemer Missionary Church, Minneapolis – Built in 1910, the Redeemer Missionary Church features a “Prairie School” type of design, which was very uncommon for churches at the time. This style of architecture features flat roofs, dramatic, sharp angles, and long, broad windows. The church features no bell tower and other traditional church features. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
1 .St. John’s Abbey Church, Collegeville – The centerpiece of St. John’s University outside of St. Cloud, the Abbey Church features a bold, dramatic concrete banner bell-tower built from 2500 lbs of concrete. The church itself is a symmetrical, expansive space with a front wall of honey-combed stained-glass panels.
What other unique churches should we have included in our list?