Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church

- Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill -

While Catholicism is considered a dominant religion in Saint Paul history, Frogtown has been home to many Lutheran congregations. Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill was built in 1913 as Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church. The church is still occupied by its original congregation.

The congregation was founded in 1854, as a Scandinavian Lutheran congregation of immigrants. Swedes, Norwegians and Danes worshipped together initially but soon split into separate churches. A group of Norwegians who wanted to hold onto their heritage banded together in 1868 and incorporated the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of St. Paul.

Services were initially held in members’ homes, in the old Ramsey County courthouse and in the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church. The congregation’s first building was erected in 1870 at L’Orient and Mt Airy streets. The church’s hillside location and sandy slopes caused problems as church members had to stabilize the structure to keep it from sliding down a hill. The building was moved in 1875 to the corner of 13th and Canada streets.

The building was sold and moved when the congregation outgrew it. Members worshipped at the state capitol at 10th and Wabasha streets until the new building was erected and dedicated in June 1884. But as that neighborhood changed, the congregation chose to move again and sold its second building to the Sons of Moses for use as a synagogue.

Once again, services were held at the old capitol, then being used for state offices. Construction on the current church began in April 1911 with the cornerstone laid in June 1911 during the convention of the Norwegian Synod. The first services were held in the basement on Sunday December 24, 1911, with the first Christmas program that afternoon. Service continued to be held in the basement until the church was dedicated on December 5, 1915. The congregation name was changed in about 1918.

The firm of Buechner and Orth designed the Renaissance Revival building. It is made of yellow brick, with white stone trim. It features two towers, as well as Ionic columns at its front door.

Christ Lutheran on Capitol Hill has been a congregation of immigrants since the 1970s.The gospel is read in English, Khmer (Cambodian) and Tigrinia (Eritrean), and the whole worship is simul-translated into Khmer.