Scenic & Historic Dell Rapids

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On July 21, 1884, a devastating summer storm blew through the countryside, destroying everything in its path.    The Congregational Church was completely destroyed.  Remnants of the church were purchased by a hardware merchant named J.E. Fargo and converted into a residence at Eighth Street and Orleans Avenue. The Fargo family’s house and life in the 1880’s were immortalized in the novel, “Prairie Girl,” written by Lucile Fargo.

The Baptist Congregation was formed in July of 1872 with 17 members.  The first pastor was Rev. William T. Hill, who came in 1873 as a homesteader after having served as a chaplain in the Civil War.  The group met in homes until 1880 when a small frame chapel was built on 4th Street.  In 1884 a large Victorian style building was erected. In 1986, the original building was refurbished and offices and a fellowship hall were added.

Broken Glass couldn’t break the faith of the Presbyterian Church.  Organized in September of 1872, the Presbyterian Church erected a building at Fourth Street and State Avenue.  The congregation disbanded in 1943 and the building was remodeled into a residence.

The Dell Rapids Lutheran Church is part of the original Rosendahl Norwegian Evangelical Congregation, organized in 1874. The present church was built with quartzite in 1902, enlarged in 1918, and further expanded in 1961 with an education wing.

The Church of the Living Water Episcopal began with a meeting of lay people in 1879. The first meeting was held in the Exchange Hotel before a downtown building was secured. In 1892 the church started construction of a quartzite building with English architecture at the intersection of Orleans Avenue and High Street—now 6th Street. In 1979, the small congregation disbanded.  For the next five years, the structure served as a city museum called the “Heritage Center.” In 1984, the Diocese sold the building to a citizen who converted it into a home.

Another church, the Logan Reformed Congregation, began as a small group in 1902, meeting in the Hart School House east of town. Six years later their first church was dedicated.  The congregation held regular worship services in this building until 1967.  In September of 1967, services were moved to their new brick building.  With the move, the name was changed to the “Reformed Church.”

Catholic railroad workers who homesteaded north of Dell Rapids comprised the majority of a group that celebrated the first mass in Dell Rapids in 1880 in a private home.  As numbers increased, later masses were held above the Collins Drug Store. The first Catholic Church was erected in 1899.  The present church and rectory were dedicated in 1951.  The old church and parsonage were razed in 1964 while a beautiful, new convent was built for the sisters.

The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in July 1880.  The original one-room church was constructed during the next two years. The new brick building, begun in 1950, was dedicated a year later.  The parsonage was added in 1962.  A ceremonial mortgage burning was held only eight years later.

In the “Roaring Twenties,” Dell Rapids citizens could listen to their very own radio station.  The Station call letters were KGDA, which stood for “Kind Greetings, Dells Announcing.”  With many churches in town, it’s no surprise that one of the station’s weekly program features was the Methodist Church’s Sunday morning worship service.

Just like radio stations today, KGDA made money by selling advertising spots.  Dieson’s (Dee-son’s) store was one of the first businesses in the area to “hear” the benefits of advertising over the air waves. In addition to being innovative, Dell Rapids businesses also are known for their longevity.  Ruth’s Beauty Shop, opened during the 1920’s, holds the record for the longest continuous business by the original owner.