St. Matthew's Church, 507 Dale Street North, Saint Paul, Minnesota
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St. Matthew's Church
|Address:||507 Dale Street N|
|Neighborhood/s:||Frogtown, Saint Paul, Minnesota|
|Saint Paul, Minnesota|
|Ramsey County, Minnesota|
|Primary Style:||Gothic Revival|
|Historic Function:||Religious/Place of worship|
|Other Historic Function:||Church|
|Current Function:||Religious/Place of worship|
|Other Current Function:||Church|
|Architect or source of design:||William L. Alban|
|Material of Exterior Wall Covering:||Brick|
|Material of Roof:||Asphalt Shingles|
St. Matthew’s Church is a Gothic Revival style brick church in the Frogtown neighborhood of Saint Paul. The church’s standout architectural features include a four-story spire, a lancet arched entry, double doors with a stained glass transom filled with Gothic tracery, and a small rose window. The north and south elevations have lancet arched stained glass windows. The side elevations also have stepped buttresses. The prominent steeple and location near the busy Dale Street and University Avenue intersection have made St. Matthew’s Church a Frogtown neighborhood landmark.
The Evangelical Lutheran congregation was organized in 1887 and constructed their first church on this site in 1888. The congregation was comprised of German immigrants who came to the neighborhoods to work in the railway shops and related railroad industries. A fire in 1918 destroyed the original building. The present structure was designed by Saint Paul architect William L. Alban and erected in 1919. (Alban also designed the Fairmont Avenue United Methodist Church and the Payne Avenue State Bank.) That year also marked the first time that English was spoken in the church—although the congregation continued to hold services in German through 1950. During WWII, the congregation expanded its services to encompass more of the Frogtown community.
In 1950, the Evangelical Lutheran congregation departed the neighborhood, following the German immigrants out of Frogtown as they assimilated into the mainstream culture. Soon after, the church became home to The First Church of the Nazarene. In 1964, St. John’s Church of God in Christ moved in, followed by the Lively Stone Temple of Jesus Christ Apostolic Faith in 1968. From 1974 until last year, the building was home to the Rock of Ages Missionary Baptist Church. The compositions of these congregations mirrored the demographic shifts in the surrounding neighborhood. In recent decades, the church served the African American community in the Frogtown and Aurora/St. Anthony neighborhoods.
The church is one of several small brick churches in the Frogtown neighborhood. However, its towering wood-shingled steeple, unique stained glass windows and location near the busy Dale Street and University Avenue intersection have made St. Matthew’s Church a neighborhood landmark. St. Matthew’s Church is a highly visible reminder of the rich immigrant and ethnic history of the Frogtown neighborhood.
The walls of St. Matthew’s Church are bowing outwards and the sanctuary ceiling is collapsing. These structural deficiencies have rendered the building unfit for habitation. Water damage further threatens the building. The Rock of the Ages Missionary Baptist Church recently repaired the steeple, but the small congregation lacks the financial wherewithal to finance the required stabilization. A contractor estimated that the costs to stabilize the building might exceed $200,000. Unable to repair their building or hold masses inside, the congregation has put the building up for sale. The urban parcel is located steps away from the planned Central Corridor light rail transit station planned for the intersection of University and Dale Avenues. Development pressures along the Central Corridor may lead a purchaser to scrap the church in favor of a new use. 
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