History Center

Minnesota Historic Sites

Historic Churches

Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN

Historic Significance: Bethlehem is the old First Swedish Baptist Church of Minneapolis. It was organized in 1871, in a hall at 2nd St. and Nicollet Ave. It was the first Swedish Baptist Church in the Twin City area. Captain R.E. Jensen and John Ring were early pastors.It was the sending church for many of the early missionaries from the Swedish Baptists. It changed its name to Bethlehem in 19   and continues a strong ministry to this day.

Address and Directions:
720 13th Ave South, Minneapolis, MN

Entering Minneapolis from the north on 35W, stay right and take the 11th Ave exit. Go north to 8th street . turn right and go East to 13th Ave.

First Baptist Church of Cambridge

Historic Significance:  The Isanti County believers, many of whom came from the province of Dalarne in Sweden, began a number of churches in the late 1800’s. Among them was the church in Cambridge. When this church was organized in 1888, it was felt that the Isanti Church and the Cambridge Church were too close together, so the Isanti congregation built a building further south. When the new church was opened in 1893, some of the believers wanted to stay with the old Tamarac building leading to the formation of the North Isanti Church. The original congregation took the name of South Isanti Baptist Church. 

Address: 304 Main St., Cambridge, MN

Elim Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN

Historic Significance: Elim Baptist was the first church planted out of the First Swedish Baptist Church in Mpls. It was organized in 1884 through the work of Anna Sandberg, a missionary from First Baptist Church. Eventually Elim became the home of Bethel Academy.

Address: 635 13TH Ave. NE, Mpls. MN

First Baptist Church of Grove City, MN

Historic Significance: A rather large group of Swedes arrived in Meeker County, MInnesota in 1857. F. O. Nilssen visited them and then the lay preachers John Erickson and John A. Peterson from the Scandia Church. In August of 1859, Nilsson immersed sever believers, who together with five others, previously immersed, organized themselves into a Baptist Church in a place called Swede Grove or Acton. However, in the 1862 Minnesota Massacre, Sioux Indians killed over 100 residents of the area scattering the church and the community. After General Sibley put down the Indian outbreak, settlers returned and in 1866 the present Grove City church was formed.

Address: Go West out of Minneapolis on Highway 12. The address of the church is 409 2nd St. So.

First Baptist Church, Houston, MN

Historic Significance: This church was the first Swedish Baptist Church in Minnesota. A group of 21 Baptist immigrated from Sweden in 1853. Some stopped in Chicago and Rock Island, but  six  families continued on into Minnesota. Their early years in Minnesota were marked by illness and fire and poverty. Itinerant preachers served the congregation including F. O. Nilsson who had come over on the boat with them from Sweden. In 1869,  Nilsson moved to Houston to make his home. He was one of the first pastors at Houston and is buried in the Houston Baptist Cemetery.

North and South Isanti Baptist Churches

Historic Significance:
In 1860, in the home of O. Eastlund, a New Testament Church was organized in Isanti County. The Isanti believers were aggressive in evangelism and started a church in Fish Lake in 1873 and a church in Cambridge in 1888.  When a new building was built for this congregation in 1892, some of the people wanted to continue to worship in the Old Tamarac Church building so on April 15, 1893, they organized as the North Isanti Baptist Church. The original congregation under the name of South Isanti Baptist Church continued to worship in the new building. Both churches have continued strong ministries to this day.

Address and Directions:
The South Isanti Baptist Church worships at .3367 County Rd. 5 NE to the east of Hwy 65 South of Cambridge. The North Isanti Baptist Church worships at 3348 313th Ave NE just to the East of Hwy 65 just South of Cambridge.

First Swedish Baptist Church, St. Paul (now Trinity Baptist Church)

Historic Significance:
The First Swedish Baptist Church in St. Paul was established near Swede Hollow in 1873, just two years after a Swedish Baptist Church had been established in Minneapolis. Pastor John Ongman was the first pastor. The first building is now gone but stood at the corner of. The congregation built an imposing building on Payne Avenue and changed the name of the church to Payne Avenue Baptist Church in 19….. In 196?, the Payne Avenue building was sold and the congregation moved to its present location. The name of the church was changed to Trinity Baptist Church.

Address and Directions:
The original site and the Payne Avenue site are not far apart. From Downtown St. Paul, drive NE on Hwy 5 to Payne Avenue. ( If you get to Metropolitan State University, you’ve gone too far. Go north on Payne Avenue to ….

The current church can be reached by continuing out Payne Avenue to the north. Then go west to Edgerton and continue until you reach the new site at the corner of Edgerton and Highway 35 in Maplewood.

Scandia Baptist Church, St. Paul, MN

Historic Significance:
One of the earliest of the Swedish Baptist Churches in Minnesota was the Scandia Baptist Church. It was founded in 1855 by a group who traveled to Minnesota from Burlington, IA. F.O. Nilsson purchased property in the area and was chosen as their leader. The Swedish Baptist Conference of Minnesota, it is believed, was organized in Scandia in 1858. The diary of the carpenter who worked on the Scandia church building was used by Moberg in the writing of his famous trilogy about Swedish Immigration. The building was moved to the Bethel Seminary campus in 19  as a symbol of the immigrant church beginnings of Bethel and the Baptist General Conference. At the time it was moved, it was the oldest continuously used church building in the Baptist General Conference.

Address and Directions:
3900 Bethel Drive, St. Paul, MN
Take Snelling Avenue North from I-94 midway between St. Paul and Minneapolis. Exit Snelling Avenue at Country Rd E, Go west to Old Snelling Avenue. Turn right and go north about one half mile to the Bethel University entrance. Within the Bethel campus, drive to the East end of the College Buildings. Go left past the townhouses. As the road curves down toward the seminary buildings, the Scandia Chapel is on the right

Scandia Baptist Cemetery, Waconia, MN

Historic Significance: 
The Scandia Baptist Church Cemetery is the site of the graves of many of the early pioneers of the Minnesota Baptist Conference. The Scandia Baptist Church was founded in 1855 and was the site of the first Annual Meeting of the Minnesota Baptist Conference on June 9, 1858.

Take I-494 west to Highway 5 West. Travel west about miles to Waconia. The cemetery is at the corner of Hwy 5 and County Rd. 30.

Stanchfield Baptist Church, Stanchfield, MN

Historic Significance:
Immigrants from the province of Dalarne, Sweden moved to the Stanchfield, MN area in the early 1860’s. A church was organized in the fall of 1866. Lay preachers such as L. Dahlman and E Erickson led the church in its early years. In 1868, a building was erected which would serve as a school in addition to a place of worship. The church continues a strong ministry to this day.

Take Hwy 65 north out of the Twin Cities.

Educational Sites

Historic Sites of Bethel University

The Swedish American Bible Seminary, St. Paul, MN

Historic Significance: Edgren took his seminary to St. Paul in the fall of 1884. First Swedish Baptist Church of St. Paul ( Later called Payne Avenue Baptist and Trinity Baptist Church)  offered him classroom space. Edgren’s visits with a variety of Swedish Baptist Churches had convinced him of general support and that it was time for an independent Swedish seminary. An endowment of $30,000 also helped with the finances. The school was re-named the Swedish American Bible Seminary. The first school year in St. Paul was characterized by a revival that touched both the seminary and the host congregation

Bethel Academy, Minneapolis, MN

Historic Significance: In 1905, the Swedish Baptists began an academy ( high school) in the Elim Baptist Church of Minneapolis. It’s founder was A. J. Gordh. He left in 1912 to pastor the Swedish Baptist Church in Brockton, MA and A. J. Wingblade became the principal until its merger with the Seminary in 1914. Beginning with 29 students in 1905, it grew to 137 students before its merger with the seminary.

Address and Directions:
685 13th Ave.NE , Mpls. MN. 
Take Broadway Avenue Northwest from 35W. Turn right on 12th Ave. NE. Go to the end of the park and turn left. Elim is on the right at the end of the block.

Como Avenue Campus of Bethel Academy

Historic Significance:
Bethel Academy moved from Elim Baptist Church into its own facilities on Como Avenue in 1910. It stayed on Como until it moved to the Snelling Avenue Campus in 1916. Eventually the building was torn down to make way for commercial development on that site.

Address and Directions:
The Academy’s building was located on Como Avenue just east of the village center of St. Anthony Village between Carter Street and a small road that goes up to Doswell Street.

The Snelling Avenue Campus of Bethel Academy and Bethel Seminary (Changed to Bethel College & Seminary)

Historic Significance: 
In the new century, pressures began to build to unite the Seminary with the recently begun Bethel Academy in St. Paul, MN. In Chicago, the University floated a plan that would have merged the Swedish Department with the other Scandinavians in to one department and changed the language of instruction to English. It was also proposed that the Scandinavians assume financial support of their programs. Though Dean Lagergren opposed the move vigorously at the 1912 Conference, at the next Conference in 1913, a resolution was passed to move the Seminary.  Bethel Seminary moved to St. Paul, MN in 1914 to merge with Bethel Academy. By November, the two schools shared a new campus on Snelling Avenue in St. Paul. The farmer from whom they purchased the land offered to sell a much larger piece of land, but it was decided that Bethel would never need more than the eight acres they acquired. The Seminary Building, on the North West corner, was built first. Railroad magnate James J. Hill gave $10,000 to assist in the building of the Snelling Avenue campus. The Academy Building was completed in 1916  Other buildings were added over the years. All the Bethel buildings still exist. The Academy eventually became a junior college ( 1931) and then a four year college (1945). Bethel College and Seminary occupied this site from 1914 until 1980. The campus is now a U. S. government Job Corps training site.

Address and Directions:
1480 No. Snelling Avenue, St. Paul, MN
Take Snelling Avenue north from 1-94 midway between St. Paul and Minneapolis. The Bethel campus is on the right about 2 ½ miles north of I-94

The Arden Hills Campus of Bethel University

Historic Significance:
Bethel Seminary occupied this 240 acre campus first in the fall of 1965. The college moved its academic buildings and some housing to the site in 1972. The old campus on Snelling Avenue continued  in use as a college housing center until it was sold to the U.S.Government in 1980. The Arden Hills Campus is the main campus of Bethel University and provides educational opportunity for over 4000 students.

Address and Directions: 3900 Bethel Drive, Arden Hills, MN

From St. Paul:
Take I-35 E north to I-694. Go West on I-694. Get off at the Snelling Avenue/Hamline Avenue exit. Go north to the first left turn and go back under the highway on Hamline Avenue. This merges with Hwy 51 on the West side of the campus. During working hours, there is a driveway into the campus which is the first right turn after the merger. Otherwise, continue to County Rd E, go West to Old Snelling Avenue, Turn right and go north about ½ mile to the entrance of Bethel University

From Minneapolis:
Take I-35W north to Country Rd E2. Go right or East to a dead end on Old Snelling. Take a right turn ( south). The campus entrance is the first left turn.

Other Historic Sites

Mounds Park Hospital, St. Paul, MN

Historic Significance:
Nels Lindahl, a member of the Payne Avenue Baptist Church in St. Paul ( First Swedish Baptist Church), and Dr. Robert Earl began the vision of a Swedish Sanitarium in St. Paul. In 1906, the first building was erected. The hospital quickly expanded. Two small hospitals in the Midway area were purchased in 1922, the Merrian Park Hospital and the Midway Hospital and eventually a large modern hospital building was built to take the place of these two smaller units. A school of nursing was opened just a few months after the opening of the Mounds Park Sanitarium, later known as the Mounds-Midway School of Nursing. These hospitals have been absorbed into the Health East organization and no longer function as hospital today. A historical display of the work of the hospitals and the nursing school is housed in the former Midway Hospital building.