From Lutherans to Lakeshore

Historic church building has worn many hats.

The building that has housed Lakeshore Players at the corner of Sixth Street and Stewart Avenue in White Bear Lake for over 40 years was originally constructed as the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1888. It is the oldest church building that still stands in White Bear.

The structure served as the home to several congregations through the years before it was converted to a playhouse, including Faith Lutheran in the early 1920s and First English Evangelical Lutheran by 1925; the congregation merged with German Lutheran Church at the end of the decade.

After adding on and eventually outgrowing the space, the congregation moved to a new building just off Highway 61 south of County Road F, as First Evangelical Lutheran Church. The original building was sold to First Baptist Church of White Bear Lake.

Lakeshore Players purchased the building in 1971, when the First Baptist Church moved north of town on Highway 61 at Buffalo Street. The community theater was formed in early 1953, and opened with Eugene O’Neill’s Ah, Wilderness!

Since 1953, the old Lutheran church has provided the home for Lakeshore Players Theatre’s regular season, the innovative 10-minute play festival, special programming and events. Soon, Lakeshore will once again be on the move to their new building on Long Avenue.

Sara Markoe Hanson is the executive director of the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society. She will be sharing history thoughts monthly on this back page.