I became aware of this church this morning when someone posted a photo of a newspaper ad which read, “For Give Away: A Rural Church near Moorhead, MN. Must be moved.”
I called the number in the ad and talked to a gentleman named Alvin Swanson who gave me directions, and fifteen minutes later I was standing in front of this place — Oak Mound Congregational Church, just a few miles from Kragnes, Minnesota, a tiny town near the Red River, on the border with North Dakota.
Oak Mound once had a school, an impressive one, right down the road from this church, but it is long gone. Only the sign remains.
I asked Mr. Swanson for some background on why they’re trying to give this church away, and he replied in a somewhat melancholy manner that they had their last services here about two years ago and the church has since been flooded. It can’t stay here.
Mr. Swanson said he’s a former member of the congregation and that most of the former church members would like to see this church moved and reused as a church again, but interest in the place has not been strong, which, in my opinion, is due to an extensive series of renovations which have masked the charm of the original church.
This church started out as a small church on the prairie, but it was moved to this spot after two years. The church you see here came into existence in three stages — the original church was moved here, then a basement and an addition were added later.
In my non-expert opinion, this church could still be moved and repurposed but it would be best used if restored to its original form, with the additions simply scrapped. It could be beautiful again.
The coat room.
There are a series of photos on display inside the church which illustrate the history of this place quite nicely.
Mr. Swanson gave me permission to give his phone number out, but I would personally request that you only call it if you’re serious, because he’s an elderly gentleman and we don’t want to blow up his phone too much for no reason. He also said they are still determining what to do with all the pews and fixtures. Interested parties can leave their number and he will get back to them when they decide what to do with it all. Alvin Swanson: 218-233-4226
The basement was covered with black mold everywhere… on the floor, the ceiling tiles, the walls.
Photos by Troy Larson, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC