Future of Old St. Paul Church Sparks Debate

June 07, 2018 06:50 PM

There is a dispute over just what to do with an old St. Paul church.

The former St. Andrew's Catholic Church along Como Avenue is now part of the Twin Cities German Immersion School.

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But school leaders are exploring expansion options that include tearing the building down.

RELATED: St. Paul Residents File Suit To Prevent Historic Home's Demolition

"A building that's that beautiful, you just can't tear it down," said John Forliti, who lives across the street. 

Built in 1927, the old St. Andrew's Church with it's terra cotta tile roof has a deep history in the Como neighborhood. 

"For me, it's 82 years connection with this church," Forliti said. 

When the parish moved from the building in 2011,  it was later purchased by the school. But Forliti was lucky enough to keep a souvenir.

"I've actually had people from the parish from St. Andrew's stop, come out, and have their pictures taken with the cross," Forliti said. 

Now, the rumblings about tearing the building down aren't sitting well with many.

"I said 'No, hang on a second,'" said Anna Mosser, a resident who's working to save the church.

"This is a very important part to our history."

"I thought that's just a rumor - can't be true," Forliti added. 

School officials understand.

"It's just a hard conversation to have," said Ted Anderson, executive director at the Twin Cities German Immersion School. 

Anderson talked about plans for the building with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Wednesday. 

"Up to this point, we've done our best working with a re-purposed church sanctuary as our gymnasium and large group gathering space," Anderson said. 

But he stressed that rising enrollment, the costs required to maintain the building and overall safety of students are forcing them to consider tearing it down and rebuilding.

"We are doing our very best to explore all other options," Anderson said. "I think people would've appreciated a longer discussion process in this. But I completely understand why it would make people upset."

Residents like Mosser are trying to find ways to save the church.

"We have a really good indication from talking to a lot of architectural historians and experts that this building will be eligible, definitely, for local historic preservation status," Mosser said. 

"My hope is that we'll save the church, and I believe there are ways to do that," Forliti added. 

The school, meanwhile, hopes to have a decision made on what they plan to do in the next month. Anderson said even if the plan is to demolish the church, nothing will happen until after next school year.

A GoFundMe page where those interested can go to donate to the process of nominating the building as a historic site has been set up.

To learn more about the Twin Cities German Immersion School's fundraising efforts, visit https://squareup.com/store/tcgis

 

Credits

Brett Hoffland

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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