Placeography:Featured place/2012-11

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Stewart Memorial Presbyterian Church, 116 32nd Street East, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Stewart Memorial Presbyterian Church (now Redeemer Missionary Baptist Church) is one of the few Prairie School churches ever constructed. It is considered the first modern church in Minnesota and one of the first progressive structures in the Twin Cities. Purcell's revolutionary design clearly demonstrates Louis Sullivan's adage that "form follows function." With its cubic form, flat roof, large windows, broad eaves, and lack of a steeple, it was an unconventional form for a church at that time.
Purcell justified the absence of a bell tower as a way to save money and to imply that modern communication had rendered such a feature obsolete. The small neighborhood congregation held its services at a set time every Sunday, and if emergency information had to be conveyed, it could be done by telephone.
The church's cubic form is reflected in the main worship space inside. The square area has a balcony on the south side, as opposed to the conventional cross-shaped nave and transept. This floor plan allowed the entire congregation to be close to the celebrant during the service.
Purcell used continuous wood trim on the walls and ceiling to unify the interior. Simple cruciform designs are the main ornament, along with geometric electroliers, or electric chandeliers, featuring bare bulbs, still novel at the time. The most spectacular elements of this flexible space are the large, sliding west walls that now open from the main space to a two-story atrium surrounded by classrooms and offices. These glass pocket doors were walled over until the congregation could afford to build an education wing. Purcell and Feick anticipated this addition, which another firm designed and executed in 1915. The church was extensively restored in 2000
A bus station will be built not far from the church as part of the recently approved City of Minneapolis I-35W Access Plan.

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