Apartments planned for ‘historically significant’ South Uptown church

Joyce United Methodist Church
A developer is planning to convert a 112-year-old South Uptown church into apartments. Photo by Zac Farber

A Minneapolis developer plans on renovating a nonoperational, “historically significant” 112-year-old South Uptown church and converting it into loft-style apartments.

Brian Farrell, principal of Northland Real Estate Group, said he envisions the Joyce United Methodist Church building at 1219 W. 31st St. housing Minneapolis workers in units that “memorialize” its Mission Revival architecture.

Farrell plans on including amenities such as bike storage, a workout facility and a gathering lounge. He also plans on preserving as many interior finishes and decorative items as possible and said he envisions units being smaller, and therefore less expensive, than those in new buildings.

He’s working with city planners to determine an exact unit count.

The Joyce United Methodist Church building, constructed in 1907, was designed for the Lake Street Methodist Episcopal Church. The two-story building is covered with stucco and has stained-glass windows, rounded arches and a red-tiled shingle roof with a small dome atop one corner.

Joyce United Methodist Church was named after Methodist Bishop Isaac Wilson Joyce. Photo by Zac Farber

The church is one of two in Minneapolis that was built in the Spanish Mission style, according to a report by Andrea Burke, the city’s historic preservation supervisor.

The building is named after Methodist Bishop Isaac Wilson Joyce, who died in 1905, about four weeks after he preached a sermon near St. Paul. The Methodist congregation used the building until disbanding in 2013, at which point the church’s statewide body took ownership of it.

A new congregation, called the Uptown Church, used the building until June.

The property is zoned for one- or two-family residential development but is about twice as large as the typical one- or two-family residential lot in Minneapolis, according to city property records. Northland purchased it for $500,000.

Farrell has asked the city to make the church an official local historic landmark, which would mean that any exterior alterations would have to conform to Minneapolis’ preservation guidelines. The city’s Community Planning and Economic Development department has recommended that the church be granted interim historic protection and further studied to determine if it merits permanent designation.

The Heritage Preservation Commission approved the recommendation Aug. 13.