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Two buildings are winning historic preservation awards

Posted: Sun, May 12, 2019 3:28 PM
St. Benedict Church

The Decorah Historic Preservation Commission Monday evening will present preservation awards to Steve and Alice Runde and to the St. Benedict Parish.

The event will be held at 5:00 p.m. at St. Benedict Church at 307 West Main Street in Decorah in the new gathering space entered through the new entrance on the building's south side. The event will include three short presentations and an informal reception.  

The Decorah Commission's annual historic preservation award is part of Preservation Month activities happening throughout the U.S. The National Trust for Historic Preservation established May as Preservation Month in 1973.

Runde Carriage House and Poultry House
Steve and Alice Runde are being recognized for their "commitment to the careful and historically appropriate restoration of the Poultry House and Carriage House on the Weiser Mansion property at 608 W. Broadway," according to Commission chair Mark Z. Muggli.  Both buildings are included as contributing properties on the National Register Broadway-Phelps Park Historic District.

Before the Rundes began their careful restoration, both buildings had deteriorated badly, and the Poultry House was in danger of collapse. According to Muggli, the Rundes have done extensive work on preserving the exteriors of both buildings in a way that supports their long-term survival. The interior and mechanical systems of the Carriage House have been completely refurbished and the building is now being used as a performance and event venue. The building is currently being used as a worship space by the First Lutheran congregation while its own building undergoes testing and repair.

St. Benedict Church
The St. Benedict Parish is being recognized for "their decision to continue to use their architecturally important church building in Decorah's historic and civic center; for their careful preservation of the historic building itself; and for their sensitive development of the church's addition, which defers to the original building while replicating some of its key features," said Muggli.

According to Ruth Kath's 1992 History of St. Benedict Parish, the current St. Benedict Church was built in an Italian Renaissance Revival style in 1918. The architect was Emanuel Masqueray, a French-born architect famous for having designed the St. Paul Cathedral (1904), the Minneapolis Basilica of St. Mary (1908), and many other major churches in the upper Midwest. Masqueray died in 1917, and St. Benedict church was one of his last commissions.

Several years ago, St. Benedict Parish explored constructing a new building near its school on Rural Avenue. The Historic Preservation Commission is recognizing the parish partly for its continued commitment to its historic building in the town center. Said Commission member Judy van der Linden, "The presence of five other historic churches near this classic church adds greatly to Decorah's historic character. It is this character that local residents value and that attracts so many visitors."

The Carriage House, now being used by First Lutheran Church