Magnificent Churches on the Prairie
"Magnificent Churches on the Prairie." North Dakota REC/RTC, April 1997, 18-19.
At the turn of the century, when North Dakota was being settled,
dedicated homesteaders and Benedictine missionaries erected awe
inspiring churches reminiscent of the elaborate churches and cathedrals
in their former homelands in Europe. Today, these churches –
built of brick, stone, and stained glass – stand as testimony
to the faith and perseverance of these pioneer Christian builders.
A new book celebrates this historic church-building period in our
state’s history, and the exquisite structures that resulted.
“Magnificent Churches on the Prairie” features the history,
architectural characteristics and more than 100 color photographs
of five of these churches – located at Mandan, Devils Lake,
Richardton and Strasburg, N.D., and at Hoven, S.D.
A true collector’s piece for lovers of North Dakota history
and architecture, the book grew out of a series of lectures for
the North Dakota Council on the Humanities. It is co-authored by
James Coomber, professor and chair of the English department at
Concordia College, and Sheldon Green, an accomplished photographer
and former editor of North Dakota Horizons who now works in the
Concordia communications office.
The soft cover, 112-page book includes such historical figures
as Father Vincent Wehrle, who built Assumption Abbey in Richardton
and later became bishop of the Bismarck Diocese, and the churches’
designer, Milwaukee architect Anton Dohmen. The book also discusses
the topic of historical preservation and the role of these churches
in today’s society.
To order your copy of “Magnificent Churches on the Prairies,”
send a check or money order for $32.95 ($29.95 plus $3 postage),
along with your name and address, to: Magnificent Churches Book,
Institute for Regional Studies, North Dakota State University, P.O.
Box 5075, Fargo, N.D. 58105-5075; telephone (701) 231-8338.
An arch beside
a walkway frames the twin towers of St. Mary’s Church,
a Bavarian-Romanesque-style church completed in 1909. The
church is part of Assumption Abbey in Richardton, home to
a community of Benedictine monks and a popular retreat center.
Arches in the Romanesque-style
Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Strasburg, lead the eye heavenward,
where paintings of biblical scenes deck the vaulted ceiling.
The church, its historical décor still intact, is on
the National Register of Historic Places.
hand-carved pulpit of Sts. Peter and Paul Church features
statuary depicting Christ and the four gospel writers –
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In the background, right, stands
one of the church’s ornately carved altars, bedecked
with statuary and intricate painting.
Reprinted with permission of N.D. REC/RTC Magazine.
to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested
by contacting Michael