“They paved paradise and they put up a….”

Right now I am in the midst of making daily podcasts and, in them, mentioning the Roman Station church of the day.  I provide a little history of the churches.  Thus, I am daily reminded that churches can come and go.  They are built, used for a time, torn down because of damage or need for another structure.  Time marches on.  And yet we revel in our most ancient churches, don’t we?  We lament the passing of a church building.

I saw an article from my native place about the older church in the city which is, sadly, facing destruction.

The story:

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Plans for a high-rise in northeast Minneapolis took a step forward this week, but not everyone is happy. The apartment tower would go up where Nye’s Polonaise Room is located, after it closes this summer.

The Neighborhood Association approved the plans Wednesday night with overwhelming support, but the new construction could have a big impact on an old church.

The call to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church has rang loud and clear for more than 160 years. Built in the 1850s, the historic frame is showing its age. But there’s real concern time isn’t the biggest threat.

“It’s important to us to say we’re opposed to the design of this particular project,” Deacon Thom Winninger said.

Winninger is worried about plans to build a 29 story apartment building next door once Nye’s Polonaise shuts down this summer. The close proximity to the church property is one thing, but the real worry is construction’s impact on the building’s integrity.


For the sake of… what?

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  1. Charles E Flynn says:

    This is what happens when a new structure undermines the integrity of an older one:

    Trinity Church Wins $4.1 Million Lawsuit: Claims Stem From Damage Done During Building of Hancock Tower

  2. Kathleen10 says:

    Party of the first part should have legal recourse should party of the second part cause cracks and damage. (but I’m no lawyer)

  3. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    They need an injunction to prevent damage, not just recompense after the damage occurs.

    And she really did say “has rang.”

  4. Sonshine135 says:

    Just looking at the development, it has no place in a location such as this. That aside, the city unfortunately worships at the altar of mammon. Were I the developer; I would be taking out a very large insurance policy. They will end up paying for any damage they cause. Were I the church, I would take the time to take pictures, secure all valuable and irreplaceable objects, and document the differences between the start and finish of the job.

  5. jflare says:

    “Just looking at the development, it has no place in a location such as this.”

    What criteria are we using to make this determination?
    I’ll grant that a 29-story apartment building sounds excessive to me, but I’m not a developer.
    I would think that someone who WAS a developer would most likely have examined the state of the area, demographics, and a host of other factors before deciding on this location to build in, or what would work to build on it.

    I’m not at all sure what all to make of this story. For all that I don’t like the idea of a church being overshadowed by a commercial property, I don’t believe this would be the first time that commercial real estate has ever existed close to a church. In fact, I believe I’ve heard of a church somewhere in New York city that literally has a very large skyscraper physically overshadowing it. So long as the newer building doesn’t interfere with access to the church or hinder the church’s activities in any unusual way, I can’t see a real problem with this.
    As far as the threat of damage to the church building goes as a result of the construction, I should think that’s not too difficult to address. From the video, I understand that a separate committee related to Historic Buildings must also approve the project before even one shovel-ful of dirt moves. If I were a member of this committee, I would require various stipulations of the approval, mostly aimed at ensuring that costs that would be incurred to repair damage done to the church would costs that would be included in the total cost of constructing the new development.
    If the developer didn’t wish to agree to be responsible for these concerns, I would refuse approval. If the developer would decide that such costs would make the development prohibitively expensive, the develop could draw up less expensive plans for the intended development or seek to build the development elsewhere.

    If people exercise some sense and would be willing to be civil and responsible, this would not need to become an acrimonious situation.

  6. frjim4321 says:

    I’m sure when they start jack hammering that 100-year-old steeple will be wobbling.

    Hard to see from the pictures if the existing structure is of architectural merit. I know that many old churches are very well constructed. But just because something is old does not mean it is good. Perhaps a good time to update and build something new?

    Conversely, just because something is new does not mean it is bad. Take new shrine that was built in (Madison?). Not my style, but I would assume the construction is of good quality.

  7. AnAmericanMother says:

    The architecture of the church is a little unusual – the original structure was a Unitarian church built in the Greek Revival style – it was acquired by some French Catholics who added some Gothic Revival decoration. Recent thinking in historic preservation honors this sort of adaptive architecture a good deal more than in the past.
    If my experience is any guide (used to represent architects and general contractors) the original fabric will be the soundest, the additions may or may not be AS sound, depending on the wealth and/or enthusiasm of the congregation. The fact that they went to some length to integrate the additions in a pleasing way indicates sound construction.
    The church was surveyed for historic designation, and that analysis will tell us the answers almost as well as walking over the place with a structural engineer.
    The interior, by the way, is lovely and the Tabernacle is a work of art.

  8. Facta Non Verba says:

    Frjim4321, it is not just an old church. It is “the oldest” church in the Twin Cities, and the second oldest in the state of Minnesota. Those facts alone should be enough to warrant preservation. The 30 story high rise that is being proposed next to the church violates current zoning ordinances and the city’s historical district guidelines. There are many other places in the city to put a 30 story apartment building — it doesn’t have to be placed next to the oldest church in the Twin Cities and in the heart of a historical district.

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