A while back I wrote a couple posts on my search for the First Methodist Church of Redwood Falls, MN; not the present building, but the building that was built back in the late 1800s that stood until 1960 in downtown Redwood Falls.

This past Sunday, Memorial Day weekend, we drove up to Redwood Falls early enough to take in the services at the present day church. I was amazed at how little change had occurred in that building over the years. There was almost nothing new since my wife and I got married there back in 1973 and left town a few months later.

But that strange feeling changed a little bit later in the morning as my daughter and I walked around the quiet downtown area in the late morning sunshine. Things there have changed quite a bit. The Coast-to-Coast Hardware store has been closed for years. The Hallmark store across the street was the J.C.Penny store when we lived there. Down the block there’s an empty lot where the Ben Franklin store used to be. (My daughter gave me a funny look on that one. “Ben Franklin?” “It was a five-and-dime.” “Five-and-dime?” “You know, like Woolworths.” “Woolworths?” “Uh, kind of like the Dollar Store.” “Oh.”) The old National Guard Armory is still standing, but it’s not the armory any more. Most of them aren’t, you know. And this building here on the right used to be a car dealer; and across the street was another car dealer. Both buildings are now standing empty.

We turned the corner onto Courthouse Square. The courthouse is still standing, and still in use, though there has been extensive remodeling. The old Civil War cannon is still sitting out front, although I seem to remember a pile of cannon balls sitting next to it. They’re gone.

Standing in front of the courthouse, I look off to the left, and there still standing is the old Carnegie Public Library. But it’s not the library any more; there are some offices in there now. Still a nice building, though.

Behind the library is the old Presbyterian Church, virtually unchanged since the days of my youth. And across the street to my right is the old Church of Christ, also virtually unchanged; and right next to that is the old city hall/fire station. It’s got a new front on it (new like back in the 50s) but it’s still recognizable from the pictures.

Right across the street from the courthouse is the spot where the old First Methodist Church once stood, tall and inspiring. I can still see the building that was right behind it, where my dad first worked when we first moved there in 1961. The spot where the church stood was an empty lot the whole time I lived in Redwood Falls. But no longer.

As I gazed across the street, my eyes beheld a low, rectangular, windowless, brick building. On the entrance was the business name, “Qwest.”

Not at all imposing.

I wonder if the people who work there realize that there once was a beautiful old church building on that site.

It kind of left me with an empty feeling.

We got in the car and quietly drove home to Mankato.

I guess maybe you really can’t go home again.