The community of Sun Prairie is changing rapidly as more people move to the Madison suburb. But if one were to drive north on County Road N, the scenery changes drastically from the rest of the town.
A sixty-second drive north of town on N will bring you to a quaint but stoic looking church. That is Bristol Lutheran. It’s the one with the white picket fence, the church cemetery, and the beautiful tall white steeple.
Our congregation is 110 years old (organized in 1907) and we have occupied this building since 16 June 1908, when it was purchased from the Methodist Episcopal Church of Bristol for $1,200.
The building was built by the Methodist Episcopal Church of Bristol in 1866 for $3,700. It was completed a year after the American Civil War had ended.
The original building was flush on the front and was rectangular in shape. The building also had a steeple which, according to The Countryman and The History of Bristol Lutheran Church, caused the Methodist congregation some trouble:
“That article indicated that the steeple had persistent leaks. It swayed whenever
the bell was run or a strong wind blew. Woodpeckers bored holes in the shingles.”
After being struck by lightning in 1898, the church gained a remodeled steeple.
The group of Lutherans were looking for a Lutheran church that was not far from their farmsteads, so they created their congregation and needed a building to purchase so they could meet in a secure and local spot.
Fortunately, the Lutherans were able to purchase this country church and the building became the home for the First Lutheran Church of Bristol.
Over time, additions have been added to the church, such as a new bell tower with steeple, a narthex, balcony, and portico in 1971, and an expansion of seating, pastor’s office, church office, entrance, kitchen, fellowship area, classrooms, and conference room in 1992.
The building’s history resemble one of the characteristics of our congregation: maintaining the original while adding new ideas and opportunities to what once was.