Loaded with history...

The building housing the Center is loaded with history. The first church to be built in Plainview, its construction in 1866 by the Methodist Society originally sported a central bell tower for an entry.

Because of its large seating capacity, in the early years of the town's history the church auditorium did double duty by hosting many meetings for the city before other facilities were constructed. Several high school graduation exercises were even held here!

In 1894, the congregation undertook an ambitious building project and added the front vestry replacing the single bell tower with a large two story addition. The upper floor housed the much needed church parlors and kitchen, while the first floor furnished two extra rooms for the use of the church.

The beautiful stain glass windows were added during this remodeling. One of these windows honors Rev. Gillis, who encouraged the project. It is located in the northeast corner. He was unaware of the congregation's plans to honor him and upon returning from a conference was surprised when he saw it! We can still enjoy it today as much as when Rev. Gillis first did.

In 1902, when electricity came to Plainview, this building was the first church wired for the new form of power. The congregation celebrated by holding a "Light Social" featuring "light" entertainment followed by "light" refreshments!

After the school fire in 1924, classrooms were scattered all over Plainview in various halls and churches. The front entryway of this building was the third grade classroom!

In 1948, another move to improve the church was undertaken. The building was raised to allow a basement to be incorporated into the structure. This necessitated the entire structure to be moved back from the street. A rainy spell during the project temporarily dubbed the basement "the Methodist swimming pool"! It was at that time that the original two front door entries were replaced with a single entrance with steps to the basement. The decorative beams in the auditorium were also added at this time.

In 1998, the building was purchased by the Plainview Area History Center to be used as a place to display and interpret the history of the area. The Center opened to the public the fall of 1999. There is a picture display in the Center featuring the church's history that shows more of the building's history.

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  • Hours

    • Open - Saturdays, 1-4 PM
    • Other by Appointment
    • Closed on Holiday Weekends
    • The History Center is closed January and February
    • The Watkins House is closed January through April
  • Contact Information

    • Correspondence:
    • 40 4th St SW
    • Plainview, MN 55964
    • Phone:
    • (507) 534-4173 (Center)
    • (507) 534-2670 (Ron Manzow)
    • E-mail:
    • rmanzow@isd2899.k12.mn.us
  • Photos

    • www.flickr.com
      This is a Flickr badge showing public photos and videos from Plainview Area History Center. Make your own badge here.
  • Genealogical Information

  • Watkins Information

  • Plainview Information