Herald JournalHerald Journal, Dec. 1, 2003

Two historic Waverly churches featured in book

By Lynda Jensen

The history and architecture of two historic Waverly churches, the Church of St. Mary and Marysville Swedesburg Lutheran Church, are featured in a recently published book "Churches of Minnesota, an illustrated guide."

The book features more than 100 churches located everywhere from Albert Lea to Zumbrota, includes about 300 pages of both full color and black-and-white photographs.

The photographs accompany a narrative about each church. Many of the selections made by author Alan Lathrop are on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Waverly churches each received two full pages of coverage, including a photo of the church.

Church of St. Mary

The narrative about the Church of St. Mary covers pages 218 and 219, and begins with a brief history of Waverly.

St. Mary's is celebrating 120 years this year, commented Father Tim Cloutier.

"The article on St. Mary's in Waverly is well written and substantial in its summary, yet a very readable and flowing narrative. It is a valuable and interesting insight into the 120-year history of this lively and colorful Catholic parish," Cloutier said of the book.

Lathrop suggested that the architect for St. Mary's was likely to be Adophus Druiding, a German immigrant and successful architect in Chicago, since the church bears distinctive markings that appear to be Druiding's work in that time period.

"The form of the church, with its two towers of unequal height, was also one of his trademarks, as was the Gothic style," Lathrop wrote.

Six years after th Rev. Joseph Guillot became the first permanent pastor in 1884, the present church was begun.

About 600,000 bricks made in Chaska, Shakopee, and Waverly Mills (the former name of Waverly) were used for the church, which measures 138 by 43 feet wide. The trim is made of Kasota stone.

The stained glass was manufactured by Brown and Haywood of Minneapolis.

There are three bells in the north tower, cast by Henry Stuckstede of St. Louis, Missouri. A smaller bell in the south tower, dated 1874 and also cast by the Stuckstede firm is from the old church and is not used. The church coat about $50,000 to erect and seats 850. The taller of the two towers rises to a height of 141 feet, the other is 98 feet tall, Lathrop noted.

As the church was being built, Father Guillot and the contractor, John Geiser of Chanhassen, felt the steeples should be a few feet taller to make the building look more stately.

Guillot traveled to St. Paul to ask Archbishop John Ireland for permission to spend the extra money needed to raise the height of the steeples. Ireland refused.

About two years later, Ireland visited the parish and remarked that the towers should have been higher.

Guillot told him the reason they were not taller, and Ireland reportedly had no more to say on the subject, Lathrop wrote.

St. Mary's was dedicated in January 1892, with bishop James McGolrick of Duluth officiating.

Guillot went then went to the parish at Marshall where he was instrumental in building the Church of the Holy Redeemer.

He died at St. Paul in 1953 at the age of 98.

Druiding, who is the likely architect for St. Mary's, is profiled in the back of the book.

He was born in Hannover Germany, probably about 1839 and immigrated to the US in 1865.

Druiding enjoyed a successful career by designing famous churches in Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and many other cities.

He won first prize in a Paris contest for his Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Mount St. Joseph convent in Cincinnati (built in 1892-1901) and a gold medal in Munich for his design of St. Hedwig Catholic Church in Chicago (1899).

The Marysville Swedesburg Lutheran Church

The Marysville Swedesburg Lutheran Church, located about three miles north on Wright County Road 9, is also featured in the book.

The book raves about this church building, which is recorded on the National Register of Historic Places; although its architect is unknown.

"This is one of the finest brick Gothic Revival parish churches in Wright County and it might be considered one of the finest such structures in the state," Lathrop wrote.

Worshippers still gather at the church, which is used during the summer, said Wright County Commissioner and building steward Dick Mattson.

The story of the church began in 1869, when Swedes started arriving in Wright County, according to Lathrop's profile on the Swedesburg church, Lathrop wrote.

The Marysville parish being organized four years later. A log church was built in 1874.

The log church served the congregation until 1891 when the present structure was erected.

The church was in use up to 1952, at which time the Zion Church was completed in Waverly, and Marysville was abandoned, and its bell transferred to Zion Church.

For the next 20 years, the church fell into disrepair.

In 1971, the remaining parishioners, led by resident Clinton Mattson (Dick's father), talked to the directors of the church out of demolishing the building, starting efforts to restore it instead.

Two years later the structure was returned to good repair through the hard work of parish members, and the congregation celebrated the building's centennial.

Today, the church is used during the summer months for Monday evening worship, June, July and August.

The church is built of local red brick on a foundation of granite blocks. It is a rectangular structure with a shed roof and projecting entrance tower and steeple.

The church is heated by a wood stove.

Other churches

The only other area churches to be featured in the book with a two-page spread and photograph are St. Mark's Episcopal Chapel in Annandale, the Community United Methodist Church in Monticello, and St. Michael's Catholic Church in St. Michael.

There are about 10 churches featured from the St. Paul and Minneapolis area, with others spread about far and wide.

Toward the end of the book, there is a simple listing of other notable churches, without pictures.

This listing includes:

· three churches in Buffalo: Christ the King Retreat Center Chapel, Church of St. Francis Zavier, and Zion Lutheran Church

· St. Timothy Catholic Church in Maple Lake.

· three churches in Litchfield: First Presbyterian, St. Philip's Cathedral, and Trinity Episcopal Church.

· two in Delano, St. Paul's United Church of Christ, and the St. Peter Catholic Church.

Lathrop is a professor and curator of the Northwest Architectural Archives, University of Minnesota Libraries. He has contributed articles toward "Architecture Minnesota" and "Minnesota History."

Photographer Bob Firth is the owner of Firth Photobank in Carver. Another book featuring his photos is titled "Landscape of Ghosts," written by Bill Holm.

The "Churches of Minnesota" book is $29.95 available through the University of Minnesota Press.

Those interested in ordering a book may contact Alison Aten at atenx001@umn.edu, call (612) 627-1932 or look for additional information online at www.upress.umn.edu.

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