Basilica Wins Popular Vote, $110K in Grant Contest

Through the national Partners in Preservation program, which grants money to historic sites, the cathedral will receive $110,000 to make interior repairs; another $890,000 will be given out next month to some of 24 other historic sites that competed alongside the basilica in an online contest.

The Basilica of Saint Mary won the popular vote-and a $110,000 grant-in the national Partners in Preservation program, through which local residents voted for their favorite among 25 historic Twin Cities sites.

But the program will award another $890,000 to some of the other 25 sites in the coming weeks; those grants will be determined by an advisory committee and announced November 9.

Partners in Preservation is put on by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation-a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit focused on preservation initiatives. The Minneapolis-St. Paul region is the sixth metro area to be selected for it.

Between September 20 and October 12, voting was open on Facebook, and Twin Citians could vote online daily for the site of their choice.

“The Basilica of Saint Mary did an excellent job throughout the program of engaging its community members and drawing awareness to its cause,” Timothy J. McClimon, president of the American Express Foundation, said in a statement.

Local historic sites were required to complete grant applications in order to be considered for the program. Applications were reviewed based on each site's historic significance and accessibility to the public, demonstration of community support and organizational excellence, and evidence of a coherent and sustainable preservation plan.

The historic place that received the most votes was guaranteed its grant request up to $125,000-and the Basilica of Saint Mary requested $110,000.

Constructed in 1915 by a French architect, the Basilica of Saint Mary was the first Catholic cathedral in the nation to be designated as a “basilica.” It serves as a worship space more than 12,000 congregants, a venue for secular and religious arts, a center for community involvement and social justice, and a beacon of hope to those in need through its outreach programs, according to Partners in Preservation.

The basilica will use the grant money to repair its narthex and sacristy-including their decorative ceilings, limestone walls, and damaged plaster. The rooms' historic paint will also be restored.

The 24 historic places vying for the remaining $890,000 in grant money-along with the cities in which they are located-are:

American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis
Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts, Fridley
Chaska Athletic Park, Chaska
Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill, St. Paul
C.S.P.S. Sokol Hall, St. Paul
Emerge Career and Technology Center (Old North Branch Library), Minneapolis
Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, Belle Plaine
Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul
Fort Snelling Upper Post, Building 67, St. Paul
Harriet Tubman Center East (Former Saint Paul's Monastery), Minneapolis
Hennepin Center for the Arts, Minneapolis
Historic Pilot Knob, Mendota Heights
James J. Hill House, St. Paul
Landmark Center, St. Paul
Mill Ruins Park, Minneapolis
Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis
Minnesota State Fair Grandstand, St. Paul
Minnesota Transportation Museum (Jackson Street Roundhouse), St. Paul
Pilgrim Baptist Church, St. Paul
Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery, Minneapolis
The Soap Factory, Minneapolis
Washington County Historic Courthouse, Stillwater
Waterford Iron Bridge, Waterford Township
Wayzata Depot, Wayzata