OUR HERITAGE: National Register of Historic Places
Hamline Church is significant in its unique art and architecture as shown by its status on the National Register of Historic Places since December 2011. University Hall, where Hamline Church held services for the first twenty years, has been listed on the National Register since September, 1977. Hamline Church was added to the Minnesota Annual Conference List of Historic Places in May 2015.
Though gothic in style, the sanctuary architecture and art are Minnesotan, created by local artists from its stone and wood carvings, stained glass windows and unique furniture, all expressly implemented by local craftsmen and artisans.
Frederick Slifer, a member of the Hamline Church, developed his architectural skills directly out of high school when he worked first for Cass Gilbert and then for Emanuel Masqueray after Gilbert moved east. Masqueray had been brought to St. Paul by Archbishop John Ireland after working on the St. Louis (Missouri) World’s Fair. Through his associations with these two superb architects, Slifer pulled together a team of artists to make Hamline Church the cathedral church of Methodism in Minnesota. Among them were:
- Fred Slifer’s drawings are artworks in their own right. He drew the gothic revival building, featuring a steeple rising 80 feet above the roof and 80 feet above the crossing of the transepts and the main aisle of the nave. The steeple includes working gargoyles, which direct rain water away.
- Carlo Brioschi and others at the Brioschi-Minuti Company, Italian immigrants and trained sculptors, created the distinctive stone work front entry, featuring images of the four gospel writers arching above the doors, and an angel between them. (Slifer’s young daughter Lorna modeled for this angel.) This company also did the plastering within the building.
- Though not complete at the 1928 dedication of the sanctuary, the plans for the clerestory stained glass windows had been determined. The four at the ends of the cross formed by the building designed were dedicated to Hamline University faculty members, and the ten surrounding the nave carry the 4th century Te Deum Laudaumus prayer and dedications to both faculty and to early members of the congregation. These sets and many of the lower windows were designed by Andreas Rudd Larsen, Norwegian immigrant artist, who had studied with Connick of Boston, Massachusetts, before arriving in Minnesota. After Larsen’s death in 1942, members of his studio joined Gaytee Glass, the firm which completed the remaining windows, both clerestory and lower. The last were installed in 1960.
- Wood carvings in the sanctuary are all of oak. Slifer also designed the unique reredos screen, the pulpit with its images of the eleven faithful disciples, the communion table with its Christian imagery, and the baptismal font. They were carved by Olaf C. Carlquist, a Swedish immigrant and master woodcarver who lived in the neighborhood. The pews were manufactured by Villaume Box and Lumber of St. Paul.
- The reredos screen includes images of vines, pomegranates and other symbols of Christian teaching.The communion table has images of bread and the cup on the front, alpha/omega symbols on the back, and a memorial inscription to Mrs. Amelia Matchett, an early church school teacher. The baptismal font is octagonal, with a simple cross on one face.
- The paraments and hangings were designed for Hamline Church and implemented by Mary Temple, a professional weaver. The sets match the seasonal liturgical colors and include hangings for the reredos, communion table, pulpit and lectern: blue for Advent; white with the prism of light for Easter and other special days; winter green for Epiphany, reminiscent of a Minnesota winter; red for Pentecost; purple for Lent; summer green for Ordinary time.