Eugene and Gustav Schuler were brothers from Milwaukee who came to Wahpeton to operate a farm machinery company, but they eventually started the Northwest Construction Company, utilizing Eugene’s architectural design expertise for a number of substantial buildings in the Wahpeton area. St. John’s has a gabled front with flanking towers and steeples, and three sets of entrance doors that are set perpendicular to the nave. The Gothic Revival church enjoyed a more conventional configuration for most of its life, with the nave and apse on axis with the entrance, but in a major renovation as the church approached its centennial year, the reconstructed and enlarged sanctuary was set perpendicular. This bold decision was made to meet programmatic needs after consultations between the architects and the Catholic diocese. The scale and detailing of the new construction is compatible with the old church, but creates a rather confusing portrayal of historical architecture.
A cultural tradition associated with Richland County German American Catholics is the practice of lacemaking continued by a closed community of Carmelite nuns of the Ancient Observance, west of Wahpeton at 17765 78th Street SE, and the related bobbin lacework tradition at nearby St. Francis Convent and St. Philip’s Catholic Church in Hankinson.