It's hard to miss the three big churches that pierce the skyline along Hennepin Avenue near Loring Park, about midway between downtown Minneapolis and the city lakes. It is such a busy freeway intersection now it can be difficult to imagine how pastoral the setting must have been when the churches were built in 1908-1914. At that time Loring Park encompassed 35 acres, extending all the way to the ballfields past the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden… no freeways then!
Saint Mark's was the first of the three to be completed, and actually began in north Minneapolis in 1858. As that part of the city developed with immigrants from ethnic backgrounds not aligned with the Anglican church they decided to change location and moved to the new Minneapolis city center. In 1863 they moved the actual church building on sled runners pulled by 33 yoke of oxen. My understanding is their new location was on 6th Street, between Hennepin and Nicollet… in the heart of the current business district.
As the city developed, their membership migrated to the 'suburbs' of Loring Park and the Minneapolis lakes district. Meanwhile, land values in the city skyrocketed and when a parishioner offered to sell the church a portion of her Loring Park estate at a generous price they were able to sell their city church and build a new church overlooking Loring Park. Both Saint Mark's and Saint Mary's laid the cornerstones for their new churches the same year, in 1908. Saint Mark's Episcopal was completed in 1910, Saint Mary's Basilica in 1914 and Hennepin Avenue United Methodist in 1916.
Saint Mark's was not to be designated as Cathedral until 1941, but it looked the part from the day it was built. Today the view from the front steps still looks over Loring Park… with the downtown Minneapolis skyscape in the background.
I love the historic photo below from 1955 that shows a completely different skyline… dominated by the Foshay Tower that was the tallest building in the city from 1929 to 1972.
Check out Loring Park homes for sale in this neighborhood that ranks as the second most walkable neighborhood in Minneapolis… with the third most walkable Minneapolis neighborhood, Lowry Hill East aka The Wedge nearby. Check out Uptown homes for sale if you would like living in this trendy Minneapolis neighborhood.
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