33525 Flanders St. NE
Cambridge, MN 55008
The Heritage Center is open
Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
It is located in the northwest corner of the Isanti County Fairgrounds, off Highway 95 and Flanders Street in Cambridge.
Click for directions
Lessons & Carols on Sunday, Jan. 8
_Celebrate the ending of the Christmas Holiday season in the same way as the German immigrants to Minnesota did almost 130 years ago. Two programs will be presented on Epiphany Sunday, January 8, 2012, at the Historic St. John’s Lutheran Church of Bradford, located at 900 County Rd 5 NW, just 2 1/2 miles west of Isanti.
The program at 2:00 pm is entitled: Lessons and Carols in the German Style (Lesungen und Weinachtslieder – im Deutschen stil) – a traditional German Language service based on the nine lessons & carols format – but using the German language (with English sub-titles), and with traditional German Christmas carols, in a format recreating the ambiance as it would have been back in 1882, when the Historic Church was built.
The program at 4:00 pm is entitled: A Most Beautiful Candlelight Service – again a nine lessons & carols program and presented in modern English – with the Christmas carols you know and love – favorites from years gone by. Revel in the enchantment created as the setting sun slowly disappears in the windows, only to be supplanted by the shimmering lights in the interior – created by kerosene wall lamps, hanging gas chandelier lamps, and the flickering light from real candles on the real Christmas tree.
Each program will be concluded with the giving of a traditional Christmas program goodie bag to each attendee (just like the one you got after the church program when you were young), and a gala reception featuring traditional German treats: Christstollen (German Christmas cake), several kinds of Lebkuchen (gingerbread style German cookies), Spekulatius (German spice cookies), and hot apple cider and coffee.
Historic St. John’s is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and has been restored to it’s original condition by the Friends of Historic St. John’s, which sponsors and programs these unique events. A suggested $5.00 per adult contribution will offset presentation costs, and further assist in continuing the on–going renovation/restoration efforts. Come and share in a delightful event.
Historic St. John’s (German) Lutheran Church is located on the south side of County Rd 5 (NW) in Bradford Township of Isanti County, Minnesota. Historic St. John’s is representative of the many rural churches scattered across Isanti County which served the important function of binding together the small ethnic communities comprising the county’s rural population. The church is primarily significant for its association with the German immigrant population of Isanti County. It is also significant as one of the few remaining examples of the small churches that served Isanti County’s rural population throughout the county’s history.
The Germans were among the earliest ethnic groups to settle Isanti County. Their presence has been overshadowed by the vast numbers of Swedish immigrants who followed them, but isolated German settlements survive in southwestern Isanti County and within that area - the southeastern part of Bradford Township. Those Germans who came to Bradford Township were eager to have a church close by which held services in their own native tongue. Initially this was achieved by meetings which were held in various homes. Eventually, a formal organizational meeting was held, and the church building, with significant financial contributions from the Boettcher, Fischer and Kluck families (among others) – was built in 1882 on land that was obtained from the neighboring Krause family farm.
The building is situated in a rural setting with a small cemetery to the west and a grove of trees to the east and south. The one story building is a simple frame Greek Revival structure sheathed in white clapboard. The building’s interior is as simple and unspoiled as its exterior. The chancel and pulpit were contributed from another earlier church located in the Osseo parish area, which was in the process of doing its own remodeling. There was no electricity: kerosene wick lamps on the walls and Coleman Quick-Lite chandelier style lamps which hung from the ceiling provided light. Heat was provided by a wood stove/furnace at the rear of the church. The stove pipe ran upwards, then along the ceiling from the rear of the church to the chimney above the altar in the front - providing radiant heat for most of the congregation. During the winters, usually single young men from the congregation were charged with rising early on Sunday mornings to start the fire so the building would not be freezing cold at service time. There was no running water, no indoor bathrooms. A shelter (which no longer exists) was built out back to provide protection for the pastor's horse and buggy. The long time custom of the church was for men and boys to sit on one side and women and girls on the other. A black bag on a long pole was passed from the aisle to 'lift' the Sunday offerings. Sermons were long, and children became restless when expected to remain quiet for the several hours long services.
At no time in it's long history did Historic St. John's have a large enough membership to financially support having its own full-time pastor. During the early years of Historic St. John's it was often necessary to call on laity for the reading of the service. Among the newly arrived German immigrants, Christian and Friederich Boettcher and Frank Fischer often filled in for the circuit pastor, Johannes Fackler, whenever inclement weather or other emergency would prevent the Pastor from presiding. Also, whenever possible, Rev. Victor Theodor von Destinon from the German Lutheran Church in nearby Crown would come. Occasionally a traveling missionary would make a visit among them, after having traveled from Osseo and then Crown on horseback, before coming to Bradford. In 1897, the Bradford members joined with the members of Crown Lutheran Church in sharing a pastor and paying his salary. From 1911 to 1923, Historic St. John's joined with the St. John's of Weber Church in sharing a pastor. Pastor F. J. Mack, who served both Historic St. John's and the St. John's of Weber churches from 1924 until 1945, was the one who began the custom of total English language services at Historic St. John's of Bradford, thus ending the long-standing tradition of German language services.
The St. John's Lutheran Church of Bradford Cemetery, next to the church, now under the ownership and care of the St. John's Lutheran of Weber Church Cemetery Association, has stones with birth dates from the early 1800's, and the earliest death date is 1882, the very year the church itself was constructed.
In 1959, the members of Historic St. John's (German) Lutheran Church of Bradford, due predominantly to declining membership, and by common consent, decided to close the doors' of their church and combine with the St. John's Lutheran Church of Weber.
Thereafter, the doors of the little church remained closed for almost 20 years and seemingly forgotten. In 1976 a restoration project succeed in the saving the Historic Church from the scrap heap of history. This project was orchestrated by Lillian Bergstrom, together with Rubie Bellin, Harold Fischer, Henry Schmitt and Wilbur Wiese, among others. It was during this national bi-centennial restoration period that the Historic church building and adjacent grounds were deeded to the Isanti County Historical Society. In June of 1984, due to an insurmountable increase in the price of liability insurance, among other financially challenging expenses, the Historical Society's Board of Directors arranged for the Historic St. John's Church and grounds to be re-deeded to Isanti County in order to insure its continued protection and existence for future generations.
From 1980 until 2004 the Historic Church building once again fell into disuse/disrepair. In August of 2004 a restoration support group: The Friends of St. John's, was formed.
From 2004 until the fall of 2007 (the 125th anniversary of the church's founding), major renovation projects were performed on both the interior and exterior of the building, and the adjoining grounds were significantly rehabilitated. Well over 300 individuals, groups, businesses, organizations and governmental agencies have joined together in supporting this substantial restoration effort – in order to (again) preserve Historic St. John's – for this generation - and the next! Today, the Historic Church can be seen much the same as it would have been at the time of its' original construction.
Since 2007, additional restoration projects have been completed, the Friends of St. John's have facilitated acquisition of additional land (across the street on the north), and a much needed off-street parking area has been constructed on that land to further encourage successful programming of historically accurate and present day presentations.
Events like: Lesungen und Weinachtsleider (traditional German Lessons and Carols program); Twilight Lessons and Carols; Old Time German Oktoberfest Dinner, Dance & Bierstube; German Immigrant Wedding Re-enactment; Rededicated with Love - Organ restoration concert, and other programs have – and are being – held.
Furthermore, present day weddings, christenings and memorial services are once again being held inside this delightful 'little church on the prairie' historic wonder known as St. John's (German) Lutheran Church of Bradford.
Programming of events and maintenance of the facility are under the purview of the Isanti County Historical Society, with the Friends of Historic St. John's Advisory Committee providing financial support and direction for on-going restoration and maintenance updates of the Historic Church and grounds.
Contributions, great and small – both financial and in-kind – are still needed to complete an inclusive restoration/renovation, and to maintain the Historic Church and adjacent grounds for the future.
Friends of Historic St. John's
_The Friends of Historic Saint John’s was created in 2004.
The organizational statement reads as follows: "Dedicated to the preservation and maintenance of this National Historic Register site -- for your generation -- and the next . . . ."
The advisory committee includes:
To date, more than 300 individuals, businesses, civic organizations and governmental agencies together have contributed more than $50,000+ in cash and ‘in kind’ services to help achieve this objective. Your own special contribution will help further these goals.