Litchfield, Minnesota

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The Litchfield Commercial Historic District.
The Litchfield Commercial Historic District.
Location of the city of Litchfield within Meeker County in the state of Minnesota
Location of the city of Litchfield
within Meeker County
in the state of Minnesota
Coordinates: 45°7′N 94°32′W / 45.117°N 94.533°W / 45.117; -94.533
CountryUnited States
 • Total5.41 sq mi (14.00 km2)
 • Land4.43 sq mi (11.47 km2)
 • Water0.98 sq mi (2.53 km2)
1,129 ft (344 m)
 • Total6,574
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,496.61/sq mi (577.86/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)320
FIPS code27-37448[4]
GNIS feature ID0646743[5]

Litchfield is a city in and the county seat of Meeker County, Minnesota, United States.[6] The population was 6,726 at the 2010 census.[7]


Litchfield was platted in 1869 when the railroad was extended to that point.[8] The city is named after the family of English capitalist E. Darwin Litchfield, a major stockholder of the Saint Paul and Pacific Railroad.[8] A post office has been in operation at Litchfield since 1869.[9] Litchfield was incorporated in 1872.[8]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.40 square miles (13.99 km2), of which 4.43 square miles (11.47 km2) is land and 0.97 square miles (2.51 km2) is water.[10]

U.S. Highway 12 and Minnesota State Highways 22 and 24 are three of the main routes in the city.


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20176,630[3]0.9%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 6,726 people, 2,747 households, and 1,749 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,518.3 inhabitants per square mile (586.2/km2). There were 2,930 housing units at an average density of 661.4 per square mile (255.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.8% White, 0.5% African American, 0.1% Native American, 0.1% Asian, 2.6% from other races, and 0.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.2% of the population.

There were 2,747 households of which 30.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.4% were married couples living together, 10.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.6% had a male householder with no wife present, and 36.3% were non-families. 32.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.98.

The median age in the city was 39.6 years. 24.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.9% were from 25 to 44; 25.6% were from 45 to 64; and 18.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.8% male and 51.2% female.

Notable people[edit]

  • Bernie Bierman (1894-1977) - Minnesota Gophers football coach, won five national championships, seven Big Ten titles
  • John Carlson, Jr. – football player, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks
  • Herbert W. Chilstrom - Presiding Bishop (1987–95) of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • John W. Foss - US Army (Ret.) four-star general and former commander of Training and Doctrine Command
  • William A. Nolen (1928-1986) - surgeon and author, wrote syndicated medical advice column that appeared in McCall's magazine for many years; his best-known book, The Making of a Surgeon, was written in 1970; appeared multiple times on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show
  • Wally Pikal (1927-2017) - entertainer and musician, Minnesota Music Hall of Fame inductee, resident of Litchfield for more than 30 years; appeared on The Tonight Show, Mike Douglas Show and Bozo's Circus, played with such notables as Frank Sinatra Jr, Conway Twitty, and Victor Borge
  • Michael Shaw - Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, Mid-America Music Hall of Fame, first open heart surgery survivor, operation by Drs. Lillihei and Lewis
  • Gale Sondergaard (1899–1985) - Academy Award-winning actress 1936 (first Best Supporting Actress award); appeared in more than 40 Hollywood films, numerous TV shows, radio, Chautauqua circuit and many Broadway plays
  • Hester Sondergaard (1903–1994) - Famous radio (CBS, NBC Mystery Theatre, Arch Obeler) character actress working with notables such as Ingrid Bergman, Burgess Meredith, Robert Mitchum, and Glenn Ford, she appeared on Broadway and was an actress in three movies (Seeds of Freedom, Naked City, Jigsaw).
  • Dan Sperry - magician; signature style of magic is called "Shock Illusion," performing cutting-edge magic incorporating razor blades, needles, broken glass, voodoo and industrial shredders.

Historic sites[edit]

  • Grand Army of the Republic Hall (G.A.R.) was founded in 1885 by Civil War veterans, who called themselves the "Boys of '61". Membership was limited to the Union (Northern) vets of the Civil War whose motto was "Fraternity, Charity, and Loyalty". The Hall remains exactly as it was when the "Boys of '61" met there. The Litchfield G.A.R. Hall is one of very few left in the nation and the only authentic one remaining in Minnesota. The G.A.R. Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 21, 1975.[11]
  • Litchfield Commercial Historic District is an unusually intact business district of a small Midwestern agricultural trade center of the late 19th and early 20th centuries with 36 contributing properties mostly built between 1882 and 1940.
  • Henry Ames House was built in 1888-1889 by area pioneer Henry Ames. The house is the only original structure that remains from what was known as the Litchfield Brickyard that operated during the years of 1883-1900. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 9, 1984.[12]
  • The Litchfield Opera House was built in 1900, the building is a darling of St. Paul architect William T. Towner, who designed it with a unique “Renaissance Revival” façade. Considered a jewel on the prairie; many people came to watch the performances of the traveling shows that came to the Opera House. The Litchfield Opera House was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 4, 1984.[13]
  • The Little Red Schoolhouse District 59 was built in 1913 on an acre of land 6 miles south of Litchfield. The architecture is a classic revival-style featuring a single story, red brick exterior, hip roof, and eight white Doric columns, was constructed at a cost of $3,500.[14]
  • Manannah (Union) Century Church, called Manannah Union Church when it was built in 1897, relied on traveling pastors to lead its flock. When membership dwindled in 1985, the church closed its doors. Esther Hegg, a longtime parishioner, bought the church at an auction. Hegg then lead the charge to move the church to the Meeker County Fairgrounds where it stands today.[15]
  • Ness Church was organized in 1861. It is one of the state's oldest historical sites and the first organized church in Meeker County. Buried in its cemetery are the first five victims of the U.S. Dakota War.[16]
  • Trinity Episcopal Church Founded in 1871, the church was entered into the National Register of Historic Places on June 20, 1975. The architecture of the church is attributed to Richard Upjohn, a famous architect from New York known for Carpenter Gothic architecture. Upjohn founded the American Institute of Architects and served as its first president. The door and side entry belltower, lancet windows, and batten walls are typical characteristics of Carpenter Gothic architecture.[17]


  1. ^ "2017 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jan 3, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  3. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  4. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  7. ^ "2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File". American FactFinder. U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
  8. ^ a b c Upham, Warren (1920). Minnesota Geographic Names: Their Origin and Historic Significance. Minnesota Historical Society. p. 340.
  9. ^ "Meeker County". Jim Forte Postal History. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  10. ^ "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2012-01-24. Retrieved 2012-11-13.
  11. ^ "Meeker Co Museum & G.A.R. Hall". Meeker Co Museum & G.A.R. Hall. Retrieved 2018-08-12.
  12. ^ "The Henry Ames House | Minnesota Bricks". Retrieved 2018-08-12.
  13. ^ "Home". Litchfield Opera House. Retrieved 2018-08-12.
  14. ^ "Little Red Schoolhouse District 59 | Litchfield, MN". Retrieved 2018-08-12.
  15. ^ "Manannah church to find new home at fair". Retrieved 2018-08-12.
  16. ^ "Historic Ness Lutheran Church". Forgotten Minnesota. 2015-12-22. Retrieved 2018-08-12.
  17. ^ "Trinity Episcopal Church, Litchfield, MN". Episcopal Church. 2011-06-13. Retrieved 2018-08-12.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°7′N 94°32′W / 45.117°N 94.533°W / 45.117; -94.533