Fairmount Avenue History

Over 150 Years of Ministry

The Fairmount Avenue United Methodist Church congregation has worshipped together since 1852. First formed in 1852 as the German Methodist Church, members attended services in a small (24 ft x 36 ft) framed building at 6th and Wall in downtown St. Paul. The building was called the Zion’s Church. By 1859 the congregation had grown enough that a larger worship space was needed. On the same property the congregation constructed a new brick building that measured 40 ft by 65 ft and was comprised of two floors with a full basement. At the time, the tall church steeple was a feature of the St. Paul skyline. This building was called the Rosabel Church, for the name of the street that it faced.

In 1864 the first church organ was purchased and the music program grew enormously. Members became more engaged in community causes and charitable activities, for example, feeding and housing the poor, especially Civil War veterans. They formed a temperance society and a day school for children to pursue religious studies. The church continued to grow and flourish, but by the late 1880s it was surrounded by an expanding downtown St. Paul. Some of the church property was condemned and utilized for street widening and bridge construction. In 1891 the congregation chose to move to a location near Olive and 11th Streets. The new church building, called the Van Slyke Court Church, was designed by Cass Gilbert, who later gained fame as the designer of the Minnesota State Capitol and the United States Supreme Court Building. The congregation thrived, and developed a strong reputation for philanthropic activity. By the end of this era the church property was surrounded by city expansion and had increased in value significantly. The Northern Pacific Railroad bought it in 1916 for the enormous price of $55,000. The trustees found a piece of land west of downtown in an area where small grain farms had existed, and on Fairmount Avenue a new building was constructed.

Services were first held in the new building in 1917. The Education Wing was added in 1857, and in 1989 an elevator was added to enhance accessibility.

In July 2007, Cleveland Avenue Methodist Church was merged into Fairmount. Cleveland Avenue Church was an anchor and active participant in the Macalester-Groveland, Highland Park, and Merriam Park communities since 1924. The Methodist Union purchased the 225 Cleveland Avenue site in 1922 to serve more than one hundred Methodist families living in the area. During its early years the church met in a rented house on Sargent Avenue, and tehn in a portable school house at Fairview and Jefferson. The original building was built in 1926. To accommodate growth, a sanctuary was added in 1950 and an education wing was built in 1963. In 2006 the congregation voted to sell the property to Kehilat Sar Shalom, leasing it back until merging with Fairmount in 2007.