St. Paul's Lutheran Church

Posted by Scott on July 6, 2019

(written by Megan, archives staff)


On November 16, 1870, Pastor P. Asbjornsen, pastor of the Bostwick Valley Lutheran church, organized St. Paul’s Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church in La Crosse.  In October 1871, St.Paul’s asked Pastor Asbornsen to be the pastor of St. Paul’s and purchased a building at 414 North 11th Street to become the church.  In the fall of 1874, the 49 member congregation welcomed Rev. E. H. Midtbo as pastor.

At a meeting on February 10, 1882, the St. Paul’s congregation decided to sell the 414 North 11th Street church and seek a more central location.  The church property was sold for $600 and, at a meeting on February 23, 1882, the church purchased a lot at 9th and Cameron Streets and a building committee was set up.  Then, on May 2nd, the building committee reported that the Presbyterian Church building at 530 King Street was for sale.  St. Paul’s decided to purchase the Presbyterian Church building and the congregation of 75 started using the building on New Year’s Day, 1883. 


1887 Sanborn fire insurance map


The congregation of St. Paul’s, now with a membership of 197, continued to seek a more central location, ideally between 10th and 15th streets.  In early 1892 the congregation purchased a plot of land at 12th and Division Streets. 


Rev. Rasmus Anderson

Rev. Rasmus Anderson became pastor in the spring of 1894 and serious plans were made to construct a new church building on the purchased lot and sell the building currently being used. Construction began on the new church building on 17 September 1896 and the first service in the new church building was held on 25 December 1896.



With the passing of time St. Paul’s Lutheran church changed with the times. Rev. O. C. Myhe, who began in June 1915, started having some services in English.  On December 5, 1920, the congregation, with new pastor Rev. H. T. Braa, decided that the last Sunday every month would be a Norwegian service while all the rest of the services would be in English.  St. Paul’s spruced up their exterior and, in April 1953, voted to purchase the property at 422 West Avenue to build a new Parish House and Chapel.  This property would include Sunday School classrooms, offices, a youth room and a lounge.  It was also designed to be incorporated into a new church building when that was built.  The dedication of the Parish House was held on 14 October 1956.

On July 15, 1959, St. Paul’s voted to start construction of a new church building.  The groundbreaking was held September 11, 1960, and the cornerstone was laid June 18, 1961.  The site of the new church was across Division Street from the old church, near the Parish House and Chapel.  The last services were held in the old church building on December 10, 1961, with the dedication of the new church on December 17, 1961. In January 1962, the congregation voted to dispose of any remaining items in the old church building and raze it to build a parking lot.


La Crosse Tribune 27 December 1961

Over the following decades, St. Paul’s and the La Crosse community both changed and the church’s membership grew smaller.  With much discussion, St. Paul’s made the decision to close; the last service is planned for August 25, 2019.

For more information on La Crosse area history, feel free to come down to the La Crosse Public Library Archives.