Central Lutheran Church is about to receive a finishing touch its original architect planned for 80 years ago -- a new 139-foot-tall bell tower.
The 33 S. 12th St. church recently received an anonymous $3.6 million gift for the steeple, which was included in a 1926 design plan and will rise on the northeast corner.
Downtown-based architects Bentz/Thompson/Rietow, 80 S. 8th St., plan to complete the tower true to the vision of the church's early architects, Sund & Dunham.
The structural frame for the Gothic bell tower will be erected this summer, and the stone installation is expected to begin next spring, said architect Robert Rietow.
The tower will feature Indiana limestone, an off-white stone that patinas over time , which is also found on the church's exterior.
Plans call for the tower's bells to ring by Christmas 2005.
Gary Langness, interim senior pastor, said the new steeple has been on the congregation's wish list for some time.
"I think it's a fulfillment of a dream that many people have had for many, many years, and I think the fact that Central has a strong, positive tradition of excellent music, the bell tower and the bells will add to what Central is about," he said.
Rietow said Central Lutheran, once a dominant presence Downtown, architecturally, has taken on a more modest place in the skyline, particularly with the expansion of the Minneapolis Convention Center, 1301 2nd Ave. S. The new steeple will help raise the church's visibility, he said.
"It will help people find the church. The church at one time was the most prominent building on the edge of Downtown," he said. "This will also identify the church from the freeway. This will be very visible from the [Interstate] 94 and 35W corridor."