Group rallies in Duluth to save historic church

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Preservationists trying to save an 87-year-old Duluth church from being demolished have hit a major roadblock in their efforts, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

A group's motion to get St. Peter's Catholic Church declared a landmark was tabled by the Duluth Heritage Preservation Council (HPC) Tuesday -- which is effectively a denial of the request.

The church has been closed since 2010, and has a leaking roof and no heat. In addition, the building's stained glass windows have been removed and replaced with plywood.

The owner of the church -- the Duluth Catholic Diocese -- opposes the preservation group's request to make the building a landmark.

The HPC noted that if they tried to declare the church a landmark, it would violate Duluth's Uniform Development regulations, which states such a declaration can't be made without the property owner's consent. A change in that policy would have to come from the Duluth City Council, and the HPC thinks that is unlikely to happen.

WDIO-TV reports that the HPC will meet again on Nov. 26.

According to the News Tribune, St. Peter's was hand-built in 1926 by Italian masons using locally hewn stone.

A man whose father helped build the church said the gathering place played a vital role in holding the community together, since its construction happened at a time when Italians were unwelcome at other churches.

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