Given the time of year, we thought we’d call attention to St. Olaf’s, the only skyway-connected church in Minneapolis. Regardless of your religious affiliation, if you need a quiet place to think and reflect, this is probably the most quiet and beautiful place on the skyway.
Located on the corner of Second Avenue South and Eighth Street, St. Olaf is the third church built on this site. The first was a Protestant church, The Church of the Redeemer, built in 1876. But, just twelve years after being built, it was destroyed by fire. A second Church of the Redeemer was built in 1889 (pictured). It served as home for the Universalist Society until 1941 when it was sold to the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for $112,500. After extensive remodeling, it was dedicated as St. Olaf Catholic church on June 1, 1941. The name, St. Olaf, commemorating the eleventh century warrior-saint, was chosen because of the city’s large Scandinavian population.
Twelve years later, disaster struck again and the building was destroyed by fire on February 18, 1953. Thorshov and Cerny were commissioned to build the new church. Their modernist design features Mankato-Kasota stone enclosing an elongated hexagon with high windows illuminating the nave.
The most dramatic feature from the outside is the bell tower with its nine bells, founded in 1882 by Meeneley Bell Works (link to an old video of bell making at Meenely) of Troy, New York, which survived the two fires. After each fire, they were replaced in their new steeple.
The most dramatic feature on the inside is the leaded glass windows. Starting in 1972, stained glass windows were installed throughout the Church. Designed by Robert Leader, from the University of Notre Dame, and fabricated by Reinarts Art Glass Studios in Winona.