St. Olaf Lutheran Church has been a center of religious life in north Minneapolis for almost 150 years (145th Anniversary – October 20, 2019) and has been on the corner of 29th and Emerson since horse and buggy days (1911). Starting in 1964, the church built a nursing home, the St. Olaf Residence, and operated it for 50 years before having to sell it for financial reasons. The facility was purchased by Freedom Works, a non-profit agency which does post-incarceration residential ministry. The nursing home rooms are being put to good use.
St. Olaf Lutheran Church was formed by Norwegian immigrants in 1873. An outgrowth of Augsburg Seminary (now college), it was a mission of Trinity Lutheran Church in south Minneapolis. In 1964, the church formed the St. Olaf Residence nursing home to provide housing and medical services to elderly residents of the community. North Minneapolis Meals on Wheels was formed in 1981. North Oaks assisted living facility was added in 1993. New Directions Youth Ministry joined the campus in 1998 to develop the youth ministry of the church. The St. Olaf Community Campus (SOCC) was formed in 2008 to support the church and its community and to administer and manage the activities of the Residence and the church. As mentioned before, the Residence was closed and sold and all that remains of the SOCC is a large community garden, which is also owned and operated by Freedom Works.
While it was sad to see the nursing home close, the closing left the church better positioned to focus on its mission and worshiping diversity. An application has been made to put the church on the National Register of Historic Places.