One of the first tasks pioneers took upon themselves was to establish houses of worship.
Like schools, churches would often start in the home of a pioneer. Sometimes services would travel from home to home. Other times, they remained in one home. Not too long after services started, people would often begin building a church.
Several factors went into building a church. First, church members would have to secure land, which was typically donated from a pioneer. Then, they would have to look for the lumber. There wasn't always the convenience of having money to purchase lumber, so many pioneers cut down trees and made their churches themselves. As time went on, the churches were expanded or built anew.
Holy Rosary in Detroit Lakes shares this same story. Unfortunately, being able to pinpoint the exact day and month that pioneers established the Holy Rosary Catholic Church is difficult. We do know that the first Mass was celebrated in 1871 by the Rev. J.B.M Genin, who was from Canada. We also know that Samuel J. Fox donated 160 acres of land to build the first Holy Rosary Catholic Church. Members then built a log structure, which stood until a wind storm demolished it.
It would be 12 years later before another church would be built it in its place. The second church, which was smaller than the first, was 38-by-28 feet, and had 18-foot walls. The church also held a 50-foot tower. While the crew started building the church in 1882, it was not completed until April of 1885.
Unfortunately, just a few short months later, a tornado would rip through the area and damage the church. The steeple was wrecked, the building moved from its foundation, and the roof collapsed. Once again, the community rallied to help repair the church.
In 1884, the Holy Rosary Catholic Cemetery was obtained by E.G. Holmes. Five years later, it was platted. Several years later, in 1908, the Holy Rosary Catholic Church was moved to its current location, and remodeled.
However, as the city of Detroit (Detroit Lakes) kept growing, so did the need for a new
Holy Rosary Church. In the fall of 1914, the foundation was laid where the fourth church would be constructed. At the time, members worked to make sure this was the best church yet.
Not only did they want more room, but the style was Renaissance and Roman, with cream-colored, Hebron pressed brick on the front. On May 2, 1915, the cornerstone was blessed.
In the late 1940s, the church went through an internal remodel. The rectory and parish administration building came together in June 1953, and a year later, a 40-by-50-foot annex was completed.
On Aug. 15, 1966, the groundbreaking ceremony for the fifth church occurred. The next year, on April 23, the blessing for the altar site and cornerstone were held. Everything was completed on Jan. 15, 1968, which led to a dedication and blessing on May 19, 1968.