Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Appreciating the beautiful craftsmanship of a Minnesota church December 23, 2012

A snippet of the pews and beautiful stained glass window.

A snippet of the pews and beautiful stained glass windows.

THE PEWS ARC in graceful curves in this holy house where the muted grey gloom of a December afternoon filters through the western wall of stained glass windows.

Just another interior view, looking toward the balcony.

Just another interior view, looking toward the balcony.

Dark wood fills this place. If not for the glorious side windows and the stained glass dome, darkness would prevail.

Focusing on the altar area and the eastern stained glass window.

Focusing on the altar area and the eastern stained glass windows.

Like so many churches in my southeastern Minnesota community, Fourth Avenue United Methodist Church in Faribault is steeped in history, bathed in beauty. One need only stand within this sanctuary, dedicated in December 1915, to feel the overpowering influence of the past in fine craftsmanship.

The obvious Greek influence in the church architecture.

The obvious Greek influence in the church architecture.

It is humbling to consider the hours devoted with hands-on manual labor to create such a reverent place resembling a Greek temple, particularly noticeable in the exterior stately Tuscan style columns.

I don’t pretend to know much about architecture.

But I do recognize beauty.

Looking up at a Christmas star suspended from the center stained glass dome.

Looking up at a Christmas star suspended from the center stained glass dome.

Three sets of heavy wooden doors lead into the sanctuary. To read about the Community Christmas Dinner, check my December 17 post.

Three sets of heavy wooden doors lead into the sanctuary. To read about the Fourth Avenue United Methodist Church annual Community Christmas Dinner, check my December 17 post.

Another view of the sanctuary.

Another view of the sanctuary.

Editing tools were applied to this photo of Mary and Joseph, lending a dreamy quality to the image.

Editing tools were applied to this photo of Mary and Joseph, lending a dreamy quality to the image.

I noticed this message posted in a church hallway.

I noticed this message posted in a church hallway.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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6 Responses to “Appreciating the beautiful craftsmanship of a Minnesota church”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    You have so captured the Spirit of the Season!! Thank you!

  2. Clyde of Mankato Says:

    I have always wanted to go into that church. It looks much like the Presbyterian church here. Presbyterian and Methodist churches often set the altar in the corner like that. I like that orientation or half round pew placement, which out church has.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I found the interior so different than any church I’d ever been inside. Do you know why Presbyterians and Methodists often set the altar in a corner? The placement of the pews in this fashion seems to create a more intimate setting and that I like.

      • Clyde of Mankato Says:

        I know nothing about church design history. But I could show you many churches like this interior, although the exterior is rare in the Midwest, at least to my memory.You see it a bit in New England. KS and MO have many many Methodist churches that are built as blocks, or really cubes, sometimes with the altar in the corner and sometimes not. Almost every little town in KS has one it seems to me. I suspect a pattern gets repeated, if not a design, as a money saving method. For many years most of the junior and senior highs in Mpls had the same basic design for that reason, but they have slowly been replaced. Our church in St. Peter and a church in Bowman, ND where my daughter used to be are very similar. Same architect. I think in this case it was to seem as though the design was not repeated so the firm sold the basic plan many hundred miles apart.
        I do not like the hall design of standard churches. I like wrapping the pews to get people closer to the altar. But I am not very traditional. I think most of the newer ELCA churches in MN are half-round seating.
        My wife and I play a game when traveling. We try to guess the denomination of a church by the architecture. We are very good at it. Many protestant churches of several denominations built in the early 1960’s look very similar.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Thanks to you, I may now begin playing this guess the denomination game. I, too, like the closeness which comes with the half-round design. I don’t particularly care, either for the narrow, hallway style of church design that was popular for awhile.


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