405 East Sixth Street
Blue Earth, MN 56013
507-526-5421
Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays from
10 to 12 and 1 to 3 or by special appointment.

Church of the Good Shepherd Episcopal

100 3681The very first Episcopal church service was conducted in Blue Earth on December 10, 1867, under the leadership of Bishop Henry Whipple, Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Minnesota.  However as they had no church building at that time, the services were held at either the Presbyterian church or the Blue Earth School.

In January of 1871 the Bishop met with Jacob A. Keister to inform him that the Reverend Solomon S. Burleson of Northfield would become its pastor.  Further he gave Mr. Keister a check in the amount of $3000 signed by a Mrs. Auchmuty, a wealthy New York lady, to be used for building a church.  There seems to be no information as to who Mrs. Auchmuty was or if she had a connection with Blue Earth but soon a lot was purchased for $375 from Art and Excene Bonwell on which the church would be built.  Ground breaking occured on August 24, 1871, and the construction of the Church of the Good Shepherd began.

Bishop Whipple used the popular style at that time, the Gothic Revival architecture.  The church, 27' x 60', "board and batten", was built on a limestone foundation, using lumber obtained from Anthony Anderson, Delavan, MN.  A 45' foot tower housed the church bell weighing 1000 pounds.  The color of the church at that time was Portland Stone with brown trimming.  Buttresses and arched windows were the outside decor and an entryway to match the design was added to the west side.  A pulpit, lecturn and altar were installed along with twenty-five pews, assembled with wooden pegs, to seat 175 people.  A stained glass window was installed portraying Christ as the Good Shepherd.  This window had originally been in Christ Episcopal Church in St. Paul, MN, before it burned and a new one built.  A Baptismal Font was placed near the entrance following the practice in the Episcopalian churches to baptize children as they enter the Church.  One hundred eight candle holders were placed around the building that was heated by a tubular furnace with "a register in each pew".  

The building was completed on March 30th and the very next day being Easter Sunday, March 31, 1872, services were held at sunrise, 10:30am and again at 2:30pm.  The Guild Hall was added to the church in 1908 and was used for overflow seating, Sunday School, church suppers and receptions.  The church has never had plumbing so water had to be carried from the rectory next door to the east or the homes of members living in the neighborhood.

A gravesite near the church belongs to little Henry Burleson, infant son of the Rev. Burleson. Henry was born and died during the summer of 1874 and was buried outside the church near the bell tower.  A marker has been placed there in his memory.
 
For the rest of the nineteenth century, the congregation was one of the largest and most influential in the community.  Many baptisms, weddings, funerals and confirmations were conducted in the church but as the years passed, its membership dwindled until only three remained.  The last Episcopalian service was held on January 2, 1977, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and in December, 1981, the members gave the building to the Faribault County Historical Society to maintain, care for and appreciate.  The church has been used in the past for ecumenical services and concerts and is now available for weddings and similar appropriate events.