Park Avenue Congregational Church

The Second Congregational Church of Minneapolis was first known as Vine Street Church and later called Park Avenue Congregational. The church founded in 1867 in an enclave of New Englanders on what was the city’s near south side. In the 1870s the first Scandinavian immigrants started showing up in Minneapolis and many settled in and around the old Second Congregational Church. Members began moving farther south away from downtown and demanded that the church move with them. The church sold their building to the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Society and built a new church six blocks away at 8th Street and 13th Avenue. The new church budding, completed in late 1874 and was an imposing structure that became a financial burden on the small parish. Unfortunately, no sooner had the Second Congregational escaped the Norwegians than they were confronted by a new rush of immigration from Sweden. Again the membership began to move south and again pressure mounted to build a new church. The minister, Edwin S. Williams fought the proposed move and urged his people to stay. He was dismissed in 1883. A year later the church sold its building, furnishings and grounds to the “Scandinavian society” and purchased three lots at the corner of Park and Franklin. In the Manual for 1886, members recorded the main reason underlying their decision to move: “We opened our doors wide to our foreign brethren. . . Finally, yielding to the force of circumstances, we sold our church building to the Swedish Baptists, at a heavy sacrifice. “ The Second Congregational was determined to make their new church a
structure to be envied by all. It was built of Lake Superior brown sandstone with a tall spire and bell to mark its presence for blocks in every direction. Nothing was spared on the inside either. Special lumber was imported for the pews and thousands of dollars were spent on an altar, choir loft as well and “Felgermacher” organ from Germany. By 1900 the church had nearly 1,000 members and was second only to Plymouth among Minneapolis’ Congregational churches. The building is now home to Park Avenue Covenant Church.