Historic Structures

Church of the Assumption (Roman Catholic), St. Paul Minnesota

Date added: April 8, 2010 Categories: Minnesota Church Richardsonian Romanesque

The congregation of the first distinctive German Catholic Church of St. Paul was organized in 1854. Plans for a new church were formulated and the comer stone was laid on August 15, 1855. The Fathers of the Order of St. Benedict came to the Church of the Assumption in 1858 and remained there until 1912. The congregation grew rapidly, and plans for the present church were begun. Completed in 1874, the building is operated by the Assumption Parish Corporation (incorporated in 1906).

The building is rectangular in plan (on the north-south axis) with two large square towers (210' high) flanking the narthex, an elongated nave with clerestory and side aisles, and semicircular apse. The structure is 185' (8 bays) long and 85' (3 bays) wide; the apse radius is approximately 30'.

Structural system, framing: Masonary bearing walls and piers with timber floor, vault, and roof framing. The main floor structure is divided into four bays (1 bay for each side aisle, and 2 bays for the nave) by double timber beams running north-south (each timber is 6" x 26") - the center beam is supported by fluted cast-iron columns set on plinth blocks, and the flanking beams are supported by the massive stone pier foundations. The 2-1/2" X 18" wood joists span east-west. The clerestory walls are supported by the six bay arcades. The rib vaults in the nave and the aisles spring from the piers of the arcade and are framed with spliced 1" x 10" boards, thoroughly cross braced and finished with wood lath and plaster. The ribs are finished with built up molded plaster. The roof of the nave is constructed of modified timber Howe trusses (9" x 9" bottom chord; 5" X 8" upper chords; 12" x 8" king posts; 6" x 6" diagonal web members; 1-1/4" steel bar vertical web members; all joined with mortise and tenon joints, secured with bolted metal plates). The 6" x 10" purlins span between the trusses and support the 2" x 10" common rafters and rough tongue and groove sheathing above,. The roofs over the side aisles have traditional lean-to framing. The towers are constructed with massive masonry bearing walls topped with frame eight-panel spires (flared at the base).

Floor plans: The building is rectangular in plan (on the north-south axis) with two large square towers flanking the narthex, an elongated nave with clerestory and side aisles, and semicircular apse. The floor of the sanctuary is raised six steps above the floor of the nave. The basement auditorium corresponds in plan to the nave and side aisle section of the church, with the addition of a center row of fluted cast-iron columns. The heating plant and general utility room are located under the sanctuary and a secondary utility and storage room is located under the narthex. There is a balcony, incorporating the organ, at the rear of the nave, with access by a modern concrete stair located in the west tower.