Watch: Historic Iron Range church gets trucked down Main Street

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A historic church that served as a gathering place in northern Minnesota for more than 100 years was trucked to its new home in downtown Tower, where it will be the cornerstone of the city's new cultural center.

St. Mary's Episcopal Church had been sitting just north of Main Street for 125 years.

But on Sunday morning it took a ride through town to the site of the Lake Vermilion Cultural Center on busy Main Street.

Residents gathered to watch as the truck carefully maneuvered the church through town, with many agreeing it was nice to see a historic building being saved, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

St. Mary's Church, made its way down Main Street today!

Posted by Ann Schuster Waugh on Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Victorian-style church, complete with 17 stained-glass windows, will help fill a void in the community. Currently there is no large gathering place that can host more than one event at a time, a GoFundMe page says.

When it's complete, the Lake Vermilion Cultural Center will be a showcase for arts, music, history and other activities, according to the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board newsletter.

“It will be a cultural facility that will represent the heritage of northeastern Minnesota,” Tom Sersha, president of the cultural center's board, said in the newsletter. “Not only will it enhance the quality of life for people here, but for tourists who come here seasonally.”

The church has a long history serving parishioners, many of whom worked in the Soudan Mine, the GoFundMe page notes. It was built in the late 1880s – not long after the village of Tower was incorporated – and consecrated by Henry Benjamin Whipple, the state's first Episcopal bishop, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

By 2012, the church was de-consecrated, and instead of letting it fall into complete disrepair, it was deeded to the Lake Vermilion Cultural Center to be reused as part of a new community gathering place in town, the nonprofit's website says.

After a long process that included the community raising $300,000 for the move and renovation of the building, the newsletter says, crews broke ground on the cultural center over the summer, the Timberjay reported.

The hope is to have the cultural center open to the public in late summer 2016, after the church building is renovated and construction on the rest of the center is complete, the newsletter says.

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