Henning facility celebrates 125th anniversary
By Chad Koenen
The twin spires that sit atop the Trinity Center has been shaping Henning’s sky line for generations. Originally constructed in 1898, the Trinity Center is celebrating its 125th anniversary, which was highlighted by a major restoration project that restored the twin spires and featured “a former President” speaking about life in 1898 this summer.
The Trinity Center was originally constructed as a Lutheran church in downtown Henning. At the time, the twin spires sitting atop of the church building towered over the rest of the community. Despite tornadoes, snow, wind and countless other events in the community, the twin spires continue to tower over the downtown Henning area today. This unique feature is thought to be one of a kind for a church in Minnesota and helped the facility to be named to the National Register of Historic places in 2018.
“It was definitely worth saving,” said Dan Broten, who is involved with the Trinity Center group. “In Minnesota they still can’t find another church with those steeples. They don’t know why it was done that way, but it was very unique.”
Thanks to a Legacy Grant from the state of Minnesota, which is funded through a voter approved tax in the state of Minnesota, the Trinity Center received a nearly $119,0000 grant to restore the twin spires, bell tower and more at the facility over the past two years. The grant featured a $5,000 local match that replaced the shingles on the spires, metal work atop the spires and the bell tower. All of the work on the facility matched what was in place when the building was constructed in 1898, which was also the last time new shingles were placed on the twin spires.
“I didn’t realize how bad the steeple and bell tower were until they started with the restoration project,” said Broten. “So really it will be good for another 125 years other than some touch ups.”
Over the years, Broten said the facility has received several Legacy grants, which he estimated to be around $160,000. The grants have done everything from completed a facility plan for the future of the building, as well as complete the countless hours of work to get the facility named to the National Register of Historic Places.
The building was originally constructed as a Lutheran church and later served as the Catholic church for much of the last half of the 20th century. Once the Catholic church moved to its new home near the Henning Festival Grounds the facility sat largely vacant until the city took possession of the building approximately 8 years ago.
Since that time, a group of volunteers have worked to restore the building, which included repairs to the foundation, the roof and reshaping the inside of the building to serve as a community facility for things like weddings, concerts and more.
“It’s a beautiful space and has good acoustics. It’s an intimate space for 100-125 people,” said Broten.
While no big celebrations are being planned for the 125th anniversary of the building, the Trinity Center hosted a Teddy Roosevelt impersonator earlier this year as he criss-crosses the country speaking about the 125th anniversary of the former president’s contributions during the Spanish-American war. The dates coincided with the construction of the Trinity Center.
Moving forward, Broten said the Trinity Center has come a long ways from what it was when the city originally took possession of the iconic building. However, he said there is still work that needs to be done to install everything from a bathroom in the building to a potential ramp to get inside.
“It’s come a long, long way, but it has a long ways to go,” he said.