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Congregational Church (UCC), Valley City, ND

June 9, 2014


Word has it on the grapevine that Congregationalists and Presbyterians reached a gentlemen’s agreement about non-competition in North Dakota: that the first denomination to reach a new settlement would trump the other. In effect—except for larger cities along the main rail lines—Presbos and Congos alternated like red and black checkers on the North Dakota game board.

The Congregational (now United Church of Christ) building in Valley City is a rare example of work by native son architect Eugene McFarland. McFarland’s father George was the first president of Valley City Normal (now VCSC; McFarland Hall is named for him). This church is a C-1 type, with the sanctuary on the right and the Sunday School in a right-angled relationship. The entry tower straddles the movable partition that still allows the two spaces to be joined.

UPDATE[17Aug2017]: Another image, though not quite so good.


  1. Actually, it’s been VCSU since 1987. I had many classes in McFarland Hall! I just looked at VCSU’s history page about their presidents, and see that they claim Sifton as their first president, but I think he was called principal then, and technically there wasn’t even a permanent facility for the school yet. Anyway, here is an interesting tidbit: “The Valley City State Normal School opened on October 13, 1890 with J.W. Sifton, M.A., Ph.D. (previously a pastor at the Valley City Congregational Church of Christ) as its principal. […] While the location and funding for a permanent facility was negotiated among various entities, Sifton surprised the school’s Board of Directors when he suddenly resigned and ‘took the train for the west.'”

  2. Thanks for that further insight to the “Normal School’s” beginnings. Sifton’s hasty departure isn’t the first of its kind: there was a chair of our department at NDSU who accepted the job, came for one day and disappeared the next without notice. It was before my time but a legend when I arrived in 1971. Incidentally, I have not yet seen the interior, though one of my former students has confirmed its integrity.

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