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Published October 23, 2013, 09:56 AM

Time could be running out on 1926 Duluth church

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — Time could be running out on St. Peter's Catholic Church in Duluth.

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — Time could be running out on St. Peter's Catholic Church in Duluth.

The church was hand-built in 1926 by Italian masons using locally hewn stone. But it's been closed since 2010.The roof is leaking. The stained-glass windows have been removed and replaced with plywood. The radiators have been sold for salvage, and with no heat it's unclear if the building will make it through the winter.

Preservationists want the church designated as a landmark in hopes of saving it from destruction. But they ran into a roadblock Tuesday when the city's Heritage Preservation Commission declined their request by tabling the motion. That's because city regulations adopted in 2010 say only landowners can begin the application process for landmark status, the Duluth News Tribune reported.

The Duluth Catholic Diocese, which owns St. Peter's, opposed the landmark request.

Commission chairman David Woodward said he wants the commission's authority to nominate local landmarks to be restored. But it's unclear whether the City Council would approve that. Councilor Jim Stauber said he's reluctant to erode property rights.

Jim Fisketti said his father helped build the church at a time when Italians were unwelcome at other local churches. He said it played a central role in holding the community together.

"This is really the immigrant experience that's on the line here," he said.

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