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First Presbyterian Church

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1928, Walter Dixon. 351 N. Poplar Ave.
  • (Photograph by Michelle Dennis)

The First Presbyterian Church, located on a corner lot in Bridgewater, departs significantly from traditional ecclesiastical design. Architect Walter Dixon designed the Prairie Style building after the congregation’s first church (1883) was destroyed by fire in 1928. There is no bell tower or steeple; the only indication that this is a church is the subtle cross set in brickwork over the door.

The rectangular building is typical of the Prairie Style in its massing, the horizontal rows of windows on the north and south facades, and the low, hipped roof with overhanging boxed eaves. The main entrance is located in a hipped roof bay, with its overhanging eave resting on two square brick posts attached to the wall plane; its double-leaf, multipane glass and wood doors are accessed via a set of four concrete steps set between low knee walls. The grouping of five tall, narrow windows on the side elevations are set into a projecting bay with a continuous concrete sill that further emphasizes the horizontality of the overall design. The main level is a large open space with a raised altar; restrooms are located in the raised basement level, which also features an open plan suitable for social gatherings.

The brick and cement specified by Dixon came from regional companies including the South Dakota State Cement Plant, Iowa’s Sioux City Brick and Tile Company, and the A.C. Ochs Brick Company of Minnesota. The church floor is red oak while the basement level has yellow pine flooring.

The church disbanded in 2011 and the building was vacant for a time. Most recently, it was home to a consignment shop.


Almlie, Liz, “First Presbyterian Church,” McCook County, South Dakota. National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, 2013. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.


Writing Credits

Michelle L. Dennis



  • 1928



Michelle L. Dennis, "First Presbyterian Church", [Bridgewater, South Dakota], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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