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Chapel with Congregants
*Brown’s Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church held its first service on this date in 1892. Brown’s Chapel was a black church located in Hastings, Minnesota.
Brown’s Chapel was the center of religious and social activities for Blacks in the area, with many weddings and funerals. Former Hastings residents visited the church after moving away, demonstrating their lasting ties to the community. The white Methodist episcopal church community often used racist insults and continued to operate in Hastings, Minnesota. In 1925, its pastor served as the local Ku Klux Klan chaplain.
On November 1, 1907, an arsonist entered the church through a back window, poured kerosene on the floor, and set a fire. The blaze ruined the floor, charred the pews, blackened the walls and ceilings, and broke the windows. Apart from two initial articles in the Hastings Gazette and Hastings Democrat, neither newspapers nor law enforcement pursued any further investigation into who started the fire, the community’s response, or efforts to raise funds to repair the extensive destruction. Brown’s Chapel was sold to Graus Lumber two years following the fire for $300.
The Black population of Hastings was 35 in 1900 and decreased substantially every decade after that. The death of the city’s last Black resident in 1954 left Hastings effectively all-white for the remainder of the century.