A 149-year-old 'historic piece' of Pine Island is for sale at $199,900

Jan. 15—PINE ISLAND — The blue doors of the Good News Evangelical Free Church are open for a new endeavor in Pine Island.

The doors first opened on Christmas 1874 with the Christian celebration of communion and the first church service in February 1875. As the first church structure built in town, "it's in great shape for the age," realtor Karl Rogers of Dwell Realty Group said. From Grace Episcopal Church in its first 119 years of existence to Good News Evangelical Free Church now, the structure is for sale at $199,900.

"With a little over 3,000 square feet there's plenty of space in there to be used for a wide array of potential future uses," Rogers said about the property at 208 Main Street. "It will be interesting to see what the next owner does with it."

One of those options could be a "really, really interesting" home, Rogers said, with the addition of a shower. The lower-level bathroom also connects to the kitchen, library and office areas. Rogers said the property is zoned as R2, which is used for multi-family units and churches and can also extend to residential property. The property cannot be zoned as commercial.

Thus far, the interested parties are considering a daycare center, youth community center and, yes, a residential home. Rogers said his idea was an Airbnb based off a converted chapel he stayed at in England.

"I've been in real estate for 10 years; I've never listed a church. It's cool, and it's an honor and pleasure to help the group through the process," Rogers said.

The neighborhood church is down the road from the Pine Island Cheese Factory and next door to Pine Island United Methodist Church. With exterior steps on the building, Good News Pastor Eric Johnson said they needed to move buildings to "make (it) easier" and "more enjoyable" for the congregation.

Johnson said the building with over 20 years of their memories will be remembered "fondly." The congregation will also miss their stops for donuts and coffee at Kwik Trip across the street.

"The vaulted ceiling of the main sanctuary was kind of that old style ... Episcopalian type building," Johnson said. "It was a very nice, reverential building and so we'll miss that."

The upper level shares the open sanctuary, which seats about 80 people. The vaulted ceilings feature wood beams, which encompass the arched doorways and windows throughout the space. While the original stained glass windows added "more character," Rogers said, the windows were shared with Grace Episcopal Church family members.

Grace Episcopal Church was a "small congregation." While Pine Island's first Episcopal service was in January 1861, the structure was built in 1874 for $2,800, according to the book "Pine Island Settlement and Growth 1854-1915" by Patricia Mapel.

In the "golden age of Minnesota's Episcopal rural churches" until 1880, the structures highlighted the people's "frontier carpenter skills," according to a

Minnesota Historical Society Magazine article

by Joan R. Gundersen. The churches were often built following

architect Richard Upjohn's

style as a "rural gothic church."

"While reflecting the latest trends in Eastern architecture and high church position, the buildings were plain, with little ornamentation except for the vertical lines of the board-and-batten exterior, pointed-arch windows and doors, and a plain three-stage tower," the article stated.

Early Episcopalian church structures were also built in Rochester, Mantorville, Owatonna, Red Wing and Cannon Falls.

The church's remodel projects throughout the years ranged from adding the basement, parish hall and social room to foundation work, siding, flooring and an altar railing, according to the Pine Island Area Historical Society.

A 1941 "face lifting" united community volunteers in Pine Island with 1,500 hours on various projects. The belfry from St. Andrew's church in Mazeppa "took two days and twenty men to raise it over the old entrance," according to the Historical Society. Rogers said the church is a "solid structure," including a new roof and vinyl siding.

Grace Episcopal Church's services concluded on April 21, 1993. Good News started having services in the building between 1996-1998.

While planning renovations at their new location, Johnson said he's excited for their move about a quarter mile north, and to see who will own the "historic piece" of Pine Island.

"We've been thankful for our current building and location as long as we've been there. And our attitude has been that if the Lord didn't open other doors ... we'd be happy to minister at that same place for as long as he had us (there)," Johnson said. "We're looking forward to the fact that this new location, new building will give us the opportunity ... (to be) more noticeable in the community and be able to do more hopefully in and around the town for different ministries."