Making a Difference

Kristine Carlson

Christ Church Lutheran in Minneapolis, a stunning 1949 sanctuary designed by Eliel Saarinen that inspired Modernist religious structures across the United States, was in dire need of restoration when Kristine Carlson became pastor in 2006. Wind and snow had eroded the glaze on the salmon-pink brick, turning it red and damaging the mortar. Water had infiltrated the 1962 education wing (designed by Eliel’s son, Eero), and paint had peeled off interior walls. Still, Carlson thought the church was the most beautiful she had ever seen.

"Saarinen understood the journey of worship," she says.

Carlson gathered church members and, with the help of architectural consultants, repainted classrooms and hallways in their original colors. Last year, she helped the church win designation as a National Historic Landmark. And she also formed a friends group to conduct tours, raising money for future repairs.

A $160,000 federal grant from Save America’s Treasures, a partnership between the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Park Service, will help finance the tower’s restoration. The work so far "has renewed the life of the ­congregation," Carlson says.

(Slideshow by Pete Sieger) 


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