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Onion Dome: A Historic Site That Needs Restoration $

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This weekend, you have a chance to take a peek inside some historic places across the Twin Cities.

There will be 25 sites holding open houses because they want your votes as part of Partners in Preservation’s grant contest.

The Partners in Preservation program promises $125,000 from American Express for the site that receives the most votes among those 25. Votes are being tabulated through Facebook.

One of the 25 finalists is the Hennepin Center for the Arts — part of the Cowles Center in downtown Minneapolis.

Up until now, the restoration of the building has been focused on the inside, but now the focus is on fixing the exterior of the arts center.

“The old adage ‘they don’t build them like they used to’ is very true,” said Frank Sonntag, the Cowles Center Executive Director.

The Hennepin Center for the Arts building is more than a century old. It’s still elaborate and described over and over again, as fancy.

“You have to remember the 1880′s in downtown Minneapolis was amazing because they were making large structures for the first time,” said Sonntag.

The building is marked as the Masonic Temple, once housing the masons who worked downtown.

Six grand-meeting rooms now accommodate the best dancers in Minnesota. It has been painstakingly restored inside, but there’s something missing.

“This is a replica of the onion dome,” said Sonntag pointing to a wire structure. “It used to live on the top corner of this building, right downtown at the corner of 6th and Hennepin.”

The dome was deteriorating, so they took it down. One rumor is that the original copper it was made of was sold for scrap to fund the war effort in 1945.

“The dome on that corner is the piece that’s missing now,” said Sonntag.

It will take $500,000 to replace dome. Hennepin Center for the Arts has secured half of the funding, but hope to win more.

The replica of the dome is outside the Hennepin Center for the Arts to draw attention to the contest. Every week, a group gets together and knits at the dome. The scarves will eventually cover it, in hopes of drawing more attention to the Facebook campaign.

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