By Erin Hassanzadeh

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This is a story we first brought you in May— a historic preservation battle with a former church building caught in the middle.

The former St. Andrew’s Catholic Church building is now owned by Twin Cities German Immersion School. Earlier this week, a court ruled that the school can proceed with demolition of the building.

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There has been ongoing tension for nearly two years between the Twin Cities German Immersion School and community members who want to see the former church building protected. Now that demolition is certain, some are saying their final goodbye.

Couples like Bill and Molly Walsh came out to say goodbye to the former St. Andrews Catholic Church in Como Park Sunday.

“We came out to see the church for the one last time before they destroy it,” said Molly Walsh, who baptized her children at the church. Her husband graduated from the eight grade there.

“St Andrew’s has been part of my life since I was born,” said John Forliti.

Forliti grew up in the church. As a priest he did baptisms, weddings and funerals there. He still lives across the street.

“We decided to hold an open house today to provide the opportunity for some closure,” said Julie Alkatout, Twin Cities German Immersion School board chair.

The former church building is owned by the Twin Cities German Immersion school, which has outgrown it and plans to replace it with a new building– a plan some neighbors fought in court.

A building rendering for future plans on the church site (credit: Twin Cities German Immersion School)

A building rendering for future plans on the church site (credit: Twin Cities German Immersion School)

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“This last year has been pretty difficult with the school and some of the neighbors,” said Alkatout.

“It’s been very hard. I’ve shed a lot of tears,” said Bonnie Youngquist of Save Historic St. Andrew’s.

The decision is now final. The school will say goodbye to this building– but for those with a sentimental tie, it’s difficult.

“I feel more than sad,” said Forliti. “It’s easy to say I’m sorry but for the one who feels the hurt, it takes a while, if ever.”

“We really hope we can mend relationships with some of our close neighbors,” said Alkatout.

The school tells us that work will likely begin this week but community members say the healing process will take much longer than that.

The school will have a new gym, cafeteria, special education space, and classrooms in the new build.


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Erin Hassanzadeh