The Cedar Riverside neighborhood was a major entry point for immigrants to Minneapolis. European settlement began during the mid-19th century when Fort Snelling opened land for civilian settlement. The area grew rapidly during the late 19th century and Cedar-Riverside's population peaked in 1910 at 20,000. Immigrants from Sweden, Norway, and Denmark were among the largest communities in the neighborhood which gave it a reputation as a Scandinavian enclave. Cedar Avenue was nicknamed "snoos" boulevard in reference to Swedish chewing tobacco. Yet, the houses of worship in Cedar-Riverside reflect a diversity of immigrant communities including Swedish, Irish, and German. There was also a significant population of Romanian Jews that lived in the area.
An "outgrowth" of the First Methodist Church in St. Anthony (later Southeast Minneapolis), this congregation was organized in 1855 on the west side of the Mississippi River (i.e. in Minneapolis) and became the Mother Church of Methodism in the city. Its founder, the Reverend Godfrey was the brother of Ard Godfrey, who operated a sawmill in St. Anthony.
The Central Avenue German Methodist Church was founded in 1866, and the first board of trustees elected in 1867. The pastor for Central Avenue church also served Northeast Church from 1866 to 1875. That year, the congregation bought a house in which they worshipped and in which a parsonage was established. This was likely on the corner of 3rd Avenue and 5th Street.
Central Baptist Church of MInneapolis developed out of Union Baptist Church, a small congregation that split from First Baptist Church sometime during the Civil War, to create Union Baptist. Presumably, the split was over loyalty to the Union (given the name of the seceding congregation, but the WPA report does not state the reason and indicates, further, that the Union Baptist papers were burned when the "dispute" between the two congregations was settled.
A daughter of the First Evangelical Free Church at 12th Avenue and 7th Street, the Central Free Church was organized in 1894 but not incorporated until September 1929. The congregation initially met in a church building located at 9th Street and 12th Avenue South, but moved in 1895 to a church they purchased at 10th Avenue South and 7th Street. Composed of Swedish members, the congregation used both the Swedish and English languages until 1929 when English was used exclusively.
The Central Lutheran congregation was incorporated on February 28, 1919, with some 34 members. The congregation initially met in the former Central Baptist Church building, which they rented, for a year and then purchased on February 26, 1920. They laid the cornerstone for the current building on Grand Street and 4th Avenue South (1300 4th Avene South) on November 27, 1926. By the mid-1930s, this prominent church boasted some 2800 members.
Organized by the first Methodist missionaries to the region, this congregation began meeting in the home of Mr. Jackson on 5th Street between Robert and Jackson, and later moved to the Central Hotel on Bench Street (later 2nd Street and now Kellogg Boulevard). The congregation erected a brick church on Market Street across from Rice Park, and was officially organized on December 31, 1848. This building was used by many subsequent congregations. The Central Park congregaton moved to a new church it erected at 9th and Jackson Streets in 1859 and was renamed the Jackson Street M.E. Church.
This downtown St. Paul congregation was founded by the Reverend John Riheldaffer in 1852 as a Presbyterian "Old School" church. A "New School" church, First Presbyterian, had been founded in 1849 by Edward Duffield Neill. The Central congregation, named in honor of Central Presbyterian in Philadelphia, which donated funds for its original building, met in several homes and municipal buildings utnil erecting a small church in 1854 at 500 Cedar Street, where the congregtion remains to this day.
This project documents the congregations and houses of worship that developed within the earliest neighborhoods in Twin Cities between 1849 and 1924.. Among the topics explored are communities, ethnicity and identity, relationships among congregations, intra-congregational interactions, class structure, and the role of houses of worship.