By Starrla Cray
MARYSVILLE TWP, MN Just a few miles north of Highway 12 on County Road 9 near Waverly stands a gorgeous brick building with a towering steeple, known as Marysville Swedesburg Lutheran Church.
“My great-grandfather, along with other members of the church, helped build it,” Marysville Township resident Dick Mattson said.
When Pastor John S. Nelson of Watertown organized the ELCA church in 1873, (www.zionbuffalo.org) parishioners used a log church until the brick building was constructed in 1891.
“They call it a gothic architectural style,” Mattson said. It is one of about six churches in Minnesota with the same style.
“Gothic revival architecture peaked from the 1750s to about 1900,” an article from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission stated. “It became one of the preferred styles for church architecture in the United States. The style is elaborate and decorative.”
The church lot was given by Anders Gust Peterson, and JM Peterson and Carl Kinsted donated the brick for the building.
From the ground to the tip of the steeple cross, the church is 60 feet high. It is 55 feet long and 30 feet wide, with an added 10 feet for the front steps. There is also a 15-foot addition in the back.
The structure was first repaired in 1902. A painting by famous European artist Olaf Grafstrom (1855-1933) was added in 1903. The large painting, which shows Jesus walking with sheep, it is still on display in the front of the church.
In 1943, there was a celebration to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the original ELCA church. In preparation, the steeple, cross, woodwork, and floors were painted, and the furnace was repaired, according to a 1943 souvenir program copy.
In 1952, Marysville joined Zion, and the Marysville church closed down until 1971. It was about to be destroyed, but Dick Mattson’s father, Clinton Mattson, along with many others, restored the building. In 1979, it was added to the National Register of Historical Places.
Now, Dick Mattson, who is a Wright County commisioner, is involved in restoration projects for the church. The donations and volunteers have been “really amazing,” he said.
When the brick outside wall at the back entrance of the church collapsed, a donation from a long-time member enabled the brickwork to be replaced and restored in 2008 to its original condition.
In addition, many families have donated money to replace windows, a future project that will cost about $300 per window.
“Weather takes quite a toll on many buildings,” Mattson said. In the future, he hopes to restructure the front of the church as well as keep up on general maintenance. Any donations are greatly appreciated, Mattson said.
“Just think how long this building has lasted, and it’s still solid,” he said. The church is still used for church services on Monday nights during the summer, and is also a popular location for baptisms and weddings.
Many years ago, Mattson was baptized in the church. Recently, his great-grandson was also baptized in the same building.
“My granddaughter got married here,” Mattson added. “Since she was a little kid, she had been saying she wanted to get married in this church.”
Mattson’s wife, Rene’e, is also involved in the church, tending flowers outside the building in the summer. “She is the greenthumb person around here,” Mattson said.