On April 18, 1937, parishioners gathered at Wooddale School for the first worship service of a newly formed episcopal church in Edina. The actual church building would soon follow, with construction underway in 1938 at the corner of 50th and Wooddale Avenue.
The almost 75 year-old St. Stephen's Church is a well-known Edina landmark that seems a permanent part of the 50th Street landscape. But Ben B. Moore, village recorder and Country Club District resident, captured the corner when it was an empty lot filled with trees and a sign announcing the construction project. (Minnehaha Grange No. 398 had previously stood at this site, but the building was moved to near its current location after Country Club District developer Samuel Thorpe acquired the property.)
His film footage shows Edina of a bygone era, with Wooddale School (now demolished) in the background, 1930s construction vehicles, and a much quieter 50th Street. I've seen still photos of the groundbreaking ceremony and cornerstone laying in The Crier, the monthly newspaper for the Country Club, but this is the first film footage I've seen. Ben Moore's grandson Bob Moore recently donated a copy of the film to the City of Edina to show on cable Channel 16.
The building has undergone several remodeling projects and additions since 1938, but the church still remains a faithful interpretation of an English country church, according to Edina Associate Planner Joyce Repya. For that, the church was given the city's annual Heritage Award this year.
St. Stephen's kicked off its Diamond Jubilee celebration year on Nov. 6, 2011 and has a variety of events planned. One is to hold a reunion of former singers from St. Stephen's in April. This page (below) taken from the church's jubilee brochure, asks readers to help identify singers in the first junior choir, shown in the 1939 photo. Do you know any of these young women? What are your memories of St. Stephen's Church? What do you think of the construction film? Please comment here or email me.
For more about the church and its history, see the Heritage Award story (page 38) in the city's Summer 2011 About Town publication or the church's web site.
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Jennifer Adam is the Executive Director of the Edina Historical Society. She welcomes your contributions. Comment on a post or send an email (see below). Traditional mail, of course, can also be sent to:
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