About 75 people gathered on the steps of former St. Andrew’s Church on Sunday afternoon in what may have been their final tribute to the historic building they’ve been fighting to save.
A temporary restraining order preventing demolition of the 92-year-old building is set to expire at 2 p.m. Monday if preservationists are unable to come up with a $1.9 million bond to the Twin Cities German Immersion School.
By Sunday evening, supporters of Save Historic St. Andrew’s had raised about $8,300.
“It was great to have people at the 11th hour who are still keeping the faith even with this impossible bond,” said Tom Goldstein, spokesman for the Save Historic St. Andrew’s group. “People are still just focusing on the fact that it doesn’t have to end this way.”
Officials with the German Immersion School want to replace the former Como Park church with a $5.1 million addition they say will better meet the needs of their 580 students.
In June the preservationists filed the lawsuit in Ramsey County District Court, hoping to spare the church under the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act.
From the building’s steps on Sunday, Goldstein led neighbors and church supporters in renditions of “This Land is Our Land” and “Amazing Grace.” The tone of the gathering remained cautiously optimistic, with several speakers referring to what would be lost if, and not when, the structure is demolished.
“There is a choice about saving this community from the horrible experience that you will all have to go through to watch the wrecking ball,” said St. Paul City Council Member Jane Prince.
The Rev. John Forliti, who lives across the street from the former church, called it an “amazing piece of art” where hundreds of families gathered to worship and build a sense of community.
“I heard that the wrecking ball is coming,” he said. “I don’t want to be here for that.”
The group filed an emergency motion with the Minnesota Court of Appeals on Friday, and Goldstein said he’s hoping for a ruling before the temporary restraining order expires.
“This is a day we hoped would never come,” he said.
Mara Klecker • 612-673-4440