In February 1890, Church of the Ascension was established in what was then the northernmost part of the rapidly growing city of
Minneapolis. Archbishop John Ireland appointed Fr. Alexander Christie as its first Pastor. Although he served the parish for only three years, his accomplishments laid the groundwork for what became one of the largest parishes in the city of Minneapolis. He bought four lots, which included a house that became the rectory, and began construction of the first church building, all for just over $19,000.
Ascension’s next pastor, Fr. Jeremiah Harrington, arrived on June 8, 1894. He served Ascension faithfully for thirty years until his death on June 8,1924. Some of the highlights from Fr. Harrington’s thirty- year tenure include building the first school, building a new church, purchasing and remodeling the first convent, and establishing the first parish hall in the old church.
Fr. Harrington bought four more lots, opened the doors to Ascension School in 1897, and called the Sisters of St Joseph of Carondelet to teach the pupils. The school began with three rooms, three sisters, and 160 students.
Next, Fr. Harrington turned his attention to building a new church, which was dedicated on May 24, 1903, by Archbishop John Ireland. This beautiful church building has been a mainstay of the near northside of Minneapolis for more than a century.
In 1916, Fr. Harrington purchased, remodeled and enlarged a house on 18th and Bryant to be used as a convent. This was where the sisters lived until 1948, when Monsignor Dunphy purchased the lot next door and built a more modern convent.
Ascension’s tradition of being a social and cultural center for the neighborhood began when Fr. Harrington converted the original wooden church structure into a parish hall. The tradition continued with the building of the Ascension Club and continues to this day. Eventually, the Club would feature a bowling alley, a swimming pool, a large auditorium/gymnasium, a dance studio and many club and class rooms.