Augustana Lutheran Church
Augustana's roots go back to the Swede Home Lutheran congregation (November 1876) in Swede Prairie Township, Yellow Medicine County, Minnesota.
The Fridhem congregation (January 1889) also goes back to the Swede Home congregation, as her charter members had previously been members of Swede Home.
Augustana, then known as Ebenezer, was organized January 31, 1899 in Clarkfield, under the leadership of Reverend B. F. Bengston. The cornerstone was laid July 13, 1904 and the church was dedicated on November 18, 1904.
In 1926, the Fridhem and Ebenezer congregations merged into the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Ebenezer Fridhem congregation. In 1936 the name was changed to reflect the language in use with a simpler name - First English Lutheran Church. Some services were still in Swedish in 1929 but as more children attended the morning service, Swedish was used only in the afternoon service. By 1942, Swedish services were only on the 5th Sunday.
Fridhem church was used occasionally from 1926-1948. The last service was the funeral of Mrs. Gustaf Anderson in December of 1936. Fridhem church was used for services in 1940 when First English’s basement was dug, and the front entrance changed from west to north. The basement was dedicated February 23, 1941. The rural Fridhem church building was sold to Boyd Redeemer church and moved to Boyd, MN in the summer of 1948. The Fridhem cemetery association was established in 1944.
Augustana's church altar with its statue of Christ—given to the Young Women Society—was unveiled April 6, 1941. The church organ and chimes were installed in September of 1946. The present organ was purchased and installed in 1995 from memorial gifts.
The 1890 church building has been renovated several times. In 1940 the basement was dug and the north entrance built. In 1958 the east addition, consisting of a down stairway, coatroom, large Sunday school room, the pastor’s study and a large addition to the dining area on the lower level was added.
The major renovation in the 1970s repaired the roof and insulated the church. Pew repair, carpeting, painting, enlarging the narthex, closing the front steps, removing the east wall to provide overflow access to the 1958 large Sunday school area, enlarging the balcony, and upgrading the bathrooms completed the project.
In the early 1990s, the church survived a tornado and a steeple lightning strike. The exterior of the church was vinyl sided in 1998.