Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church Then and Now

Back in 1900, The Lowry Hill Congregationalists, built a church across the street from Fowler Methodist Church near Dupont and Franklin Avenues. After Fowler Methodist merged with the Hennepin Avenue Methodist congregation and moved to the big church at Groveland and Hennepin, the old Fowler Methodist building became the Scottish Rite Temple. The Lowry Hill Congregational Church stood just behind that big old rock pile until it was burned to a crisp in 1922. The Congregationalists were divided about moving their church off Hennepin Avenue, but they eventually settled on a spot and hired architects, Hewett & Brown to design a new structure on Lake of the Isles Boulevard. The firm had gained a fair amount of prestige for their work on the Cathedral Church of St. Mark and Hennepin Avenue Methodist church buildings. The George Leighton Company built a basement structure to be used while the rest of the church was constructed.

The total bill for the new church came in at at varying amounts in various accounts. The original figure may have been $100,000 or $125,000, $160,000, but as the church went up, so did the cost. The Lowry Hill Congregational Church came up short and the situation was handed over to Minnesota 4th Judicial Court. At least 22 contractors had liens against the property. None had been paid for their labor and materials. Unfortunately the church’s bondholders lost their shirts in the stock market crash and were unable to pay. The Lowry Hill Congregational Church held services for a couple more years. They went door to door trying to raise funds and sell bonds to the general public, but in 1932, services were discontinued, the congregation disbanded and the building sat empty for nearly three years.

On April 24, 1935, a small group of Lutherans constituted themselves, “A Committee for the Advancement of Lake of the Isles Church “. This committee then drafted a request to the Synodical Home Mission Board for help in the formation of a congregation and for the services of a pastor. Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church was organized with an adopted a constitution and by-laws on January 17, 1936. It took years of negotiations, but on May 16, 1940, the Synod finally obtained title to the building. The Lutherans paid a tidy sum of $22,424.45. The cost of the original property, including lots, building and furnishings, probably exceeded $200,000.