MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Musicians are making a joyful noise to help restore America’s oldest basilica. It’s the yearly block party at the Basilica of St. Mary in downtown Minneapolis. The concerts keep the landmark looking divine.
The block party is the biggest fundraiser each year, raising more than $5.5 million raised in the last 24 years.
“We have to remember the building is over 110 years old so any building of that age is in need of ongoing restoration,” director of liturgy Johan Van Parys said.
Scaffolding surrounds the dome of the Basilica. The work is called tuck pointing, filling the narrow grooves.
“It’s very important that if we want the building to be dry so that no water can seep in between the stones,” Van Parys said.
Water ran down the walls in the ’80s, peeling paint and leaving a white stain on the interior. Since then the roof has been repaired and the dome stabilized. The Basilica Block Party allowed funds to be raised and the church to stay open.
“Having the building stand is great but now being able to restore the ceiling and clean the walls is something that will really make the building pop,” Van Parys said. “They’ll see a clean ceiling that has been touched up repainted gilded we also added some lighting.”
Down the road, the Basilica will need a full interior restoration, complete with the stained glass windows being taken apart and re-leaded. Van Parys said the Block Party will continue to have an impact on the historic Basilica.
“To have this in the Midwest is just such a beautiful gift,” Van Parys said.