Bismarck Church May Join National Register of Historic Places
Emily Sakariassen remembers admiring the stained glass windows in St. George’s Memorial Church as a child.
âI would be a little distracted looking at the borders of these windows, and there would be a little eye or a little foot because it’s salvaged glass,â Sakariassen said.
Years later, this fascination fueled her work as an architectural historian. She was instrumental in the nomination of St. George’s for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.
âIt really is a gem here at Bismarck,â Sakariassen said.
The church was built in 1949, designed by an architect Bismarck who at the time defied expectations of what an Episcopal Church should look like. Instead of a stone or wood exterior, the exterior is pumice concrete – the first time this material has been used in a building in the northern United States.
âIt’s a period just after the war when the availability of resources and funds is a bit more difficult. But you also have new technological advancements that occurred during the war effort. It’s something really striking, âsaid Sakariassen.
But the 45 stained glass windows are truly unique. The glass they are made from was recovered from bombed-out churches in England during World War II.
âYou might find windows like this in the UK, maybe in Northern Europe. They are the only known example of this company’s work here in the United States, âSakariassen said.
The church also serves as a memorial to veterans of WWI and WWII, as well as Dakota pioneers.
Canon Hal Weidman says one of his favorite parts is carpentry.
âThis particular color of the wood, the intricate carvings for me are unique, and that only adds to the vibe of the worship experience,â Weidman said.
To be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building must be considered architecturally significant. Sakariassen has been compiling research for about a year, which will ultimately be submitted to the State Review Board and then to DC for national approval.
This in turn could mean funding for better preservation of the church.
âThe church may be able to access funds or grants, but the public will also have a document that will convey the significance of this place well for them to enjoy,â Sakariassen said.
The final draft of the nomination will be presented to the State Historic Preservation Review Board on August 27.