First United Church of Christ

Browse all items in the First United Church of Christ collection


Two years before Minnesota became a state, a Congregational church was organized in Northfield in 1856.  On his first trip to Northfield, the Reverend Jeremiah Barnes, a graduate of Yale Divinity School, fell in with John W. North who had bought land in the area of Northfield some months earlier.  North told Barnes that he would donate 16 acres of land to any church that would establish a college on it.  Barnes visited several days with North and found a small but interested Congregational group.

About a month later, in June of 1856, Barnes came to Northfield again. He partnered with the Rev. Richard Hall, the home missionary superintendent for Minnesota, and by August 30, 1856 the two pastors and the Congregationalists in town officially formed a Congregational church. Two years later, Charles Goodsell began to work with the Rev. Richard Hall to establish a Congregational college in Northfield. In 1866, Goodsell won a “bidding” process among Minnesota towns for the founding of a college. Many church members, including minister E.S. Williams, were central donors. In 1866, Northfield College, which became Carleton College, was founded.

The structure that now houses First United Church of Christ, Congregational, was built in 1881.



Historical materials at First UCC include church records and reports beginning in 1856 as well as the records for the board of Trustees, treasurers, Sunday school, and different men’s and women’s groups. Also included in the collection are various newspaper articles and clippings, pamphlets and booklets on the history of the church.

This collection is now housed at the Northfield Historical Society


Northfield Historical Society is located at 408 Division St. in Northfield. The NHS can be reached at 507-645-9268 or

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.