Fargo Churches: Then and Now

This slideshow features historic photographs of several of the churches of Fargo, accompanied by recent photographs, which allow for side-by-side comparison. The recent photographs were taken by Scott Becklund in 2012. Mr. Becklund attempted to recreate the original location and angle of the archival photographs. Most of the churches retain some of their original character, while some have been demolished.[divider scroll]

1. Elim Lutheran Church- 321 9th Street North. (Left) Photo taken from Clara Byers’ Scrapbook, 1937, courtesy of NDSU Archives. (Right) Elim Lutheran Church, 2012. Taken by Scott Becklund.

2. First Congregational Church- 224 8th Street South.  (Left) Photo taken from Clara Byers’ Scrapbook, 1937, courtesy of NDSU Archives. (Right) Site of former First Congregational Church, 2012. Taken by Scott Becklund. None of the original structure remains. It was demolished in 1979.

3. First Presbyterian Church-  650 2nd Avenue North.  (Left) Photo taken from Clara Byers’ Scrapbook, 1937, courtesy of NDSU Archives. (Right) First Presbyterian Church, 2012. Taken by Scott Becklund.

4. Gethsemane Episcopal Church-  204 9th Street South.  (Left) Photo taken from Clara Byers’ Scrapbook, 1937, courtesy of NDSU Archives. (Right) Site of former Gethsemane Episcopal Church, 2012. Taken by Scott Becklund. The cathedral burned beyond repair in 1989.

5. Grace Lutheran Church- 821 5th Avenue South. (Left) Photo taken from Clara Byers’ Scrapbook, 1937, courtesy of NDSU Archives. (Right) Grace Lutheran Church, 2012. Taken by Scott Becklund.

6. Methodist Episcopal Church- 906 1st Avenue South. (Left) Photo taken from Clara Byers’ Scrapbook, 1937, courtesy of NDSU Archives. (Right) First United Methodist Church, 2012. Taken by Scott Becklund.

7. Plymouth Congregational Church- 901 Broadway North.  (Left) Photo Mss 48.1.25, courtesy of NDSU Archives. Taken c. 1920. (Right) Plymouth Congregational Church, 2012. Taken by Scott Becklund.

8. Pontoppidan Lutheran Church- 309 4th Street North. (Left) Photo taken from Clara Byers’ Scrapbook, 1937, courtesy of NDSU Archives. (Right) Pontoppidan Luthean Church, 2012. Taken by Scott Becklund.

9. St. Mark’s English Lutheran Church- 400 Roberts Street. (Left) Photo taken from NDSU Libraries (http://library.ndsu.edu/fargo-history/churches/st-marks-eng-luth.htm). (Right) Site of former St. Mark’s Church. Building was demolished, c. 2000. Photograph by Scott Becklund, 2012.

10. St. Mary’s Catholic Church-  619 7th Street North. (Left) Photo 2023.M-4, courtesy of NDSU Archives. Taken c. 1935. (Right) St. Mary’s Cathedral, 2012. Taken by Scott Becklund.

11. Swedish Baptist Church- 300 4th Street North. (Left) Photo taken from NDSU Libraries (http://library.ndsu.edu/fargo-history/churches/swede-bap.htm). (Right) Site of former Swedish Baptist Church. Photograph by Scott Becklund, 2012.

12. Unitarian Universalist Church- 121 9th Street South.  (Left) Photo 2003.2.3, courtesy of NDSU Archives. Taken c. 1935. (Right) Unitarian Universalist Church, 2012. Taken by Scott Becklund.

-Zach Jendro, Digital History 2012

 

Ladies Aid Societies

In every church history, one theme consistently appears.  Whether it be the Scandinavian Lutherans or the English speaking Presbyterians, each church had the women of the church to thank for being the driving force behind sustaining the church.  For example, in fall of 1873,  women in both Fargo and Moorhead churches organized events to benefit the church in Fargo.  The proceeds of the first oyster supper and art showing totaled $143.21.[1]  At the Presbyterian church, whenever a contribution was needed, whether that be service or money, the “ladies aid” was  there to lend a helping hand.[2]  These are just a few of the many examples that highlight the importance of the ladies aid societies in Fargo that would expand beyond church matters and into the enforcement of good moral order in Fargo.

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[1] Byers, Clara. 1937. Historical sketch of Gethsemene Epicopal Church

[2] Lane, W. J., and D. T. Robertson. 1927. The past made present. S.l: s. n]. 69.

First United Methodist

members of Methodist Church photo

This is a photo of some charter members of the First United Methodist Church.

 

In 1871, Father James Gurley held the first formal Methodist service in Fargo in Pinkham Hall at the corner of Main Avenue and 5th Street.  However, it was the Rev. John Webb who organized the first Methodist Sunday school and helped to build the first Methodist Episcopal Church.  The land for the church was donated by the Northern Pacific Railway and was 30′ x 50′.  It was completed on July 1, 1874, at a cost of $1,200 and was chartered 19 days later.[1]First United Methodist scott_01

First Methodist church exterior photo

The exterior of First Methodist Church.

First Methodist Church interior church

The interior of First Methodist Church.

Heather Brinkman, Digital History 2012


[1] First United Methodist Church. “Our History”. web. Oct. 30, 2012.

Gethsemane Cathedral

Gethsemane Cathedral photo

When Episcopal Bishop William D. Walker was appointed, he chose Fargo as his See City and Gethsemane Church became Gethsemane Cathedral.  In 1893, the church was located on the southeastern corner of Second Avenue and Ninth Street South and had 175 members. The Rev. F.B. Nash Jr. was the rector.  The building was the only wooden Episcopal cathedral in the United States.[1]Gethsemane

 Heather Brinkman, Digital History 2012


[1] Caron, John. “Fargo, N.D., History Exhibition, Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU.” Fargo, N.D., History  Exhibition, Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU. North Dakota State University, 2004. Web. 30 Oct. 2012

 

The Unitarian Church

Unitarian church photo

The Unitarian Church was organized in February of 1890.

It was located on the corner of Ninth Street South and Second Avenue.

This photo was taken in 1899 and Richmond Fisk, D.D. was the minster at the time.[1]Unitarian Church

Heather Brinkman, Digital History 2012


[1] Caron, John. “Fargo, N.D., History Exhibition, Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU.” Fargo, N.D., History  Exhibition, Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU. North Dakota State University, 2004. Web. 30 Oct. 2012 <http://library.ndsu.edu/fargo-history/churches/unitarian.htm>

 

St. Mark’s English Lutheran Church

Rev. Ulery photo
St. Mark's English Lutheran ChurchRev. W.F. Ulery came to Fargo in 1885 to start a Lutheran church whose services were done in English as all of the services offered in the area where in the people’s native tongues.  He persuaded the Southern Railway Depot to allow him to use their building to teach Sunday School.  During his two years of teaching Sunday school he raised the $2,000 needed to build a church proper on a three lots on the corner of 8th street and 4th Ave north.  The construction on the church started on July 25, 1886 and the first service was held on May 18, 1887.  There were 10 members of the congregation at that time.[1]St marks English Lutheran_01

Heather Brinkman, Digital History 2012


[1] Caron, John. “Fargo, N.D., History Exhibition, Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU.” Fargo, N.D., History  Exhibition, Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU. North Dakota State University, 2004. Web. 30 Oct. 2012 <http://library.ndsu.edu/fargo-history/churches/st-marks-eng-luth.htm>

 

Pontoppidan Lutheran Church

Pontoppidan Church

On December 14, 1877 25 charter members met in the home of G. Johnson to organize this church and came up with the name Pontoppidan Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Lutheran Congregation.  The name was changed in 1878 to the First Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Fargo and changed again only a month later to Pontoppidan Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church.  The foundation of the church was laid in August 1878 at 415 3rd Street North and was completed in the fall of 1879.  It was lost in the fire of 1893.[1]Pontoppidan

Heather Brinkman, Digital History 2012

[1] Caron, John. “Fargo, N.D., History Exhibition, Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU.” Fargo, N.D., History  Exhibition, Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU. North Dakota State University, 2004. Web. 30 Oct. 2012 <http://library.ndsu.edu/fargo-history/churches/pontoppidan.htm<

 

Plymouth Congregational Church

Plymouth Congregational Church photo

 On April 25, 1885 the Plymouth Congregational Church was organized by Revered William Ewing.  The congregation had 10-12 original members, but by 1893 it had grown to 50 members with Reverend A.H. Tebbets as its pastor.  Reverend O.C. Clark built the first church on Ninth Ave North near Tenth Street, but the building was moved to the west side of Broadway between 8th ave and 9th ave in 1884. That building was blown down on July 7, 1980 by a gale.  The church was rebuilt again at a cost of $3000 and was dedicated on December 21, 1890.  [1]Plymouth Congregational_01

Heather Brinkman, Digital History 2012

[1] Caron, John. “Fargo, N.D., History Exhibition, Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU.” Fargo, N.D., History  Exhibition, Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU. North Dakota State University, 2004. Web. 30 Oct. 2012 < http://library.ndsu.edu/fargo-history/churches/plymouth-cong.htm>

First Norwegian Lutheran Church

Norwegian Lutheran Church photo

A group of Norwegian immigrants settled in the Fargo-Moorhead area in 1871.  Many of them were living in tents located in the river town district.  The first service for this group was held on October 4, 1872 by Rev. Niels T. Ylvisaker in a Moorhead home.  The congregation named itself Moorhead Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation at that time and built their first church in 1874.  They were forced to sell the building because of the financial hardship it caused and rent meeting facilities in Fargo.  They changed their name another three times before landing on the current name.  The congregation was finally able to build another church in 1895 on the corner of Roberts Street and Fourth Avenue North for $14,000.  At this time their membership had grown from 31 to 283 people.[1]First LutheranChurch

Heather Brinkman, Digital History 2012


[1] First Lutheran Church. “History” 2009. web. Oct. 30, 2012  <http://www.flcfargo.org/aboutus/history>

The Swedish Baptist Church

Swedish Baptist church photoThe First Scandinavian Church was founded in 1883.  It held its services in Norwegian.  The Swedish population left the church because of the language used for services and formed their own church on August 1, 1891: the Swedish Baptist Church.   The members of the Swedish church were A.J. Solestrom and his wife, Nels Johnson and his wife, Mrs. Anderson and her two children, Charles Wiklund and his wife, Lars Loren, Annie Nelson, and C.A. Hedlund.  Before a church could be built, the members met in a building that had once been a saloon. Unfortunately, before the first church could be used it was destroyed by the fire of 1893.  By that time, they had 60 members and the pastor was ON Lind.  They rebuilt the church for a cost of $5000 and it was located on the northwest corner of Third Avenue and Fourth Street North.[1]SwedishBaptistChurch_01

Heather Brinkman, Digital History 2012


[1] Caron, John. “Fargo, N.D., History Exhibition, Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU.” Fargo, N.D., History  Exhibition, Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU. North Dakota State University, 2004. Web. 30 Oct. 2012.< http://library.ndsu.edu/fargo-history/churches/swede-bap.htm>

 

First Baptist Church

First Baptist Church was organized on January 27, 1879 by 26 people who were meeting at Chapin’s Gall on NP Avenue.  Their first pastor was a supply pastor, Rev. George Vosburgh, who only stayed for a few months.  The church was incorporated on July 20, 1881 and a new building started in the summer of 1881.[1]First Baptist Church photo  Many involved in the divorce rush during the early 1890’s found a home at the church because of “the eloquence of Rev. Cook and the musical ability of his wife who directed the choir.”  When the topic of divorce came up in a sermon, the temporary members seemed to give little notice and still continued to attend the church.

Many involved in divorce rush during the early 1890’s found a home at the church because of “the eloquence of Rev. Cook and the musical ability of his wife who directed the choir.”  When the topic of divorce came up in a sermon, the temporary members seemed to give little notice and still continued to attend the church.[2]FirstBaptist_01

Heather Brinkman, Digital History 2012

[1] First Baptist Church. “Our Church Over the Years.”  Web. 30 Oct. 2012. <http://firstbaptistfargo.tripod.com/history.html>
[2] First Baptist Church, Fargo, N.D. 1978. History of First Baptist Church, Fargo, North Dakota, 1879-1979. Fargo, N.D.: The Church.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church

On May 30th, 1899, St. Mary’s Victorian Gothic cathedral was dedicated.  It is located at 619 7th Street North.  The cathedral’s tower is 172 tall and houses the sole bell of the church.  This is the church built by Fargo’s first bishop, bishop Shanley.[1]St. Mary's Catholic Church photo

St. Marys_01

Heather Brinkman, Digital History 2012


[1] Caron, John. “Fargo, N.D., History Exhibition, Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU.” Fargo, N.D., History  Exhibition, Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU. North Dakota State University, 2004. Web. 30 Oct. 2012. <http://library.ndsu.edu/fargo-history/churches/st-marys.htm>.