Virginia Street Swedenborgian Church

Built in 1886, the Swedenborgian Church was designed by Cass Gilbert, the St. Paul architect who later became famous for the Minnesota State Capitol, the Woolworth Building in New York, and the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. This was an early commission (he was 37 years old), during what he called his “house building”period.

The design was intended to reflect the tenets of the Swedenborgian faith. Emmanuel Swedenborg, 1688 – 1772 -- was a Swedish scientist and self-taught theologian who experienced a series of revelations over the course of decades. He received a different version of the Trinity, with Christ as both Creator and Redeemer; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost comprised three aspects of His nature. Christ's Second Coming had already occurred – in His revelation to Swedenborg in 1747.

Objects in the physical world have spiritual correspondences. The fieldstone foundation of the Virginia Street church, unique among Gilbert creations, “represents the enduring faith in Jesus Christ, the Divine/Human who as God incarnate is Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.” The simplicity of the interior, little changed since Gilbert's time, reflects , in the words of the congregation, “a sense of spiritual harmony.”

Swedenborg never established a church, but his followers in England did so, 16 years after his death. The first American congregation arose in 1792. There are believed to be about 10,000 Swedenborgian parishioners in the world today. William R. Marshall, governor of Minnesota from 1866 to 1870, founded the Virginia Street congregation, first in 1860 and again in 1873, making this one of the longest-established congregations in the city.

The addition to the east end of the building from 1922 was designed by St. Paul's second-most-famous architect, Clarence Johnson.

The church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Images

Virginia Street Church

Virginia Street Church

Date: May, 2013 Photo by: Kimmy Tanaka View File Details Page

Interior of Virginia Street Church

Interior of Virginia Street Church

The simplicity of the interior of the Swedenborgian church, little changed since Cass Gilbert's time, reflects, in the words of the congregation, "a sense of spiritual harmony." Date: Approximately 1920 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

View of Selby Avenue

View of Selby Avenue

Near Farrington Street looking west with Virginia Street Church on the left side and Aberdeen Hotel on the right-hand side. Photographer: George E. Luxton Date: 1898 Image Courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

William R. Marshall

William R. Marshall

Governor of Minnesota from 1866 to 1870, founded the Virginia Street congregation, first in 1860 and again in 1873, making this one of the longest-established congregations in the city. Painter: Carl Gutherz Date: 1881 Image Courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Virginia Street Church

Virginia Street Church

The fieldstone foundation of the Virginia Street church, unique among Cass Gilbert creations, "represents the enduring faith in Jesus Christ, the Divine and Human who as God incarnate is Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier." Date: Approximately 1920 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Interior of Virginia Street Church

Interior of Virginia Street Church

Date: May, 2013 Photo by: Kimmy Tanaka View File Details Page

Virginia Street Church

Virginia Street Church

Date: May, 2013 Photo by: Kimmy Tanaka View File Details Page

Virginia Street Swedenborgian Church

Virginia Street Swedenborgian Church

Photo by: Tony Andrea, East End Productions, 2013 View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Paul Nelson, “Virginia Street Swedenborgian Church,” Saint Paul Historical, accessed May 23, 2017, http://saintpaulhistorical.com/items/show/120.

Related Tours

Share this Story