Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Crookston, MN


Old Crookston Cathedral
Ash St. at 2nd Ave., Crookston

It may be remembered by locals as the former Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, but its intrigue also lies in a unique architectural component: It has three spires atop its neo-gothic facade. In a world where most churches of this style only have two towers, architect Bert Keck gave several northern Minnesota churches three. The 1912 church is one of only three still standing in Minnesota — the others are in Duluth (the old Sacred Heart Cathedral, now the Sacred Heart Music Center at 2nd Ave. W and 4th Street) and Terrebonne (St. Anthony of Padua parish in a town of that name in Red Lake County). (Unfortunately, none are used as Catholic churches today.) It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Catholic Spirit
From Stella Borealis

 Uberculture @ Flickr

Also found this one from 1950 at Minnesota Historical Society

Want to see what the new "cathedral" looks like in Crookston?  .... how do you spell U G L Y... 

At least they left Immaculate Conception as is instead of destroying it.


Unknown said...

It's incredible what architects have done to the Church. They studied Michelangelo in school and they turn out dog crap.

I was just in Transfiguration east of St. Paul a couple of weeks ago. The insides of virtually all new churches look like auditoriums. No sanctuaries, no sanctuary lamps, often hidden tabernacles, no statues or stained glass images in view. If there is a large crucifix it generally portrays the Risen Christ, not the Crucified Christ. But in many new churches, the processional crucifix doubles as the required crucifix near the altar at Mass.

Huge socializing and eating areas are located on the periphery; there are lots of meeting rooms to plan changes in the liturgy to make it more in keeping with the Spirit of Vatican II.

Great pictures of Immaculate Conception, Matt. Did you go there?

Badger Catholic said...

there are lots of meeting rooms to plan changes in the liturgy to make it more in keeping with the Spirit of Vatican II

No, I'd like to. I just found these on Flickr after your post perked my curiosity.

Do you know what has become of the original Cathedral?

I like how the Catholic Spirit doesn't hold back in saying its a shame none of the churches are still in use. Probably the best diocesan newspaper out there.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Badger Catholic said...

For other readers, I did find the story here

And also some other details and window photos here

In short the building has not been used for years and is/was owned by a homeless shelter who did not want the building to begin with. Many of the beautiful windows have been removed, but there are efforts now to restore it. It sounds like the main altar may have been decapitated prior to the buildings abandonment.

Anonymous said...

Why would the 'builders' of the new cathedral want to have people INSPIRED with REVERANCE. Wouldn't want anyone to stick around after Mass for prayer. What a shame is right. Maybe I'll skip the overly long drive to that diocese now so that I see all the of MN Cathedrals. Too bad there aren't any old pictures of the old Cathedral.

Anonymous said...

I attended school at this cathedral in summer of 1951. My brother and I would get picked up on Sunday afternoon and brought back home on Friday afternoon. What an experience it was. I attended school all summer, and boarded there Sunday thru Friday. They had the most beautiful nuns. The inside of the Cathedral was unreal. So glad I got to see the old pics....that is how I remember it! My parents were migrant workers back then. Learned a lot there!!!

Badger Catholic said...

Thanks for sharing Anon!

Anonymous said...

I'm a native of Crookston, MN and just "stumbled" onto your website. I still live in the city and drive by the "old" Cathedral often. What a shame. The Bishop who decided to change locations had NO intention of renovation on the original structure. He is now retired and the damage has been done. The first Bishop of the Diocese of Crookston, Timothy Corbett had tremendous vision. He built the Cathedral - Cathedral High School/Grade School - numerous hospitals, schools etc.

What a waste.

If your'e looking for pictures of the original Cathedral - contact the Diocese of Crookston.

The Cathedral was so deep in its name that the sports teams were called the "Blue Wave" in honor of the Blessed Mother and her often seen blue clothing.

Andy said...

Very similar to what happened to the beautiful Romanesque church here in Northfield, except here they succeeded in getting the church demolished (1985) before replacing it with an ugly modern one that looks like a gymnasium. Today it's difficult to even find a photograph of the old church, as the church leaders have done everything they can to help people forget.

Here is my blog that tells the story, with photos:

Badger Catholic said...

Thank you Andy! I will do a post on Northfield to help raise awareness.

Unknown said...

Yes, Andy, what a shame about Northfield. I often went to the Gym of Saint Dominic during my time at Olaf. The over-casual liturgies, bad music, and ugly architecture were far from edifying!

Anonymous said...

Long story short, the old Cathedral lacked a few necessities like bathrooms, meeting rooms, a basement etc. It was no longer large enough to serve the diocese for diocesan Masses. It seated around 700 maybe less. After closing the other catholic church 2 blocks away 10 years earlier they needed to offer more Sunday Masses and facing a priest shortage in the diocese they couldn't staff enough priests there (as I have been told by someone from diocese). They were faced with 3 options. Expand the church which wasn't feasible as there was a steep embankment behind it that would require large amounts of fill and engineering to expand it rearward. Expanding the trancepts wasn't practical either as there was a city street 20 feet away from the south trancept. Option 2 was to put a basement underneath church which really wasn't that practical either. Option 3 was relocate to the property where they had moved the school to a few years before and build new. I would speculate that the design and architecture of the current Cathedral came about because 25 years ago that was the style of the time, for good or for bad. It's no secret that our Bishop at the time was very progressive and with our parish historically not having big money donors, funding was a huge issue. The parish even borrowed money from the local cemetery and 25 years later finally paid them off. So in the end, logistics, and money where the main reasons for the current design. Is it the most Catholic looking building out there? No, it's ugly on the outside. The inside, isn't too bad. The current cathedral seats 750 pretty comfortably and can max out at 1000 for Christmas and Easter, the Chrism Mass, ordinations, and other diocesan functions. We have an Adoration chapel where we have Adoration 16 hours a day and perpetual Adoration the first weekend of each month. No church in our area can say that. We have shrines for the Holy Family, the blessed Mother, St. Anne, St. Paul and St. Peter.

While yes architecture helps in focusing ourselves towards God and giving all glory to Him, it is NOT ESSENTIAL. What is important is our faith life as a community which continues to grow each year. Our parishioners know that if they want architecture, all they have to do is drive 7 miles down the road to the Cathedral's mission parish which is one of the most beautiful churches in all of Minnesota. But oddly enough, they barely draw 40 people for Mass on Sunday. So I would suggest that the people of our region and our parish, dont care as much about architecture as elsewhere. If you'd like to see some pictures contact me as one of my hobbies is documenting beautiful churches . Blessings to you.

Badger Catholic said...

Thank you for the background Jason!