Historic sites compete for restoration funds

$1 million up for grabs in online vote

Twenty-five historic sites around the Twin Cities will vie on Facebook for $1 million in restoration funds in a competition sponsored by American Express Foundation and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The winner of the contest will receive full funding of their restoration project, while the remainder of the fund will be divided between the other 24 sites.

The sites were sifted down from 300 potential competitors and had to follow strict criteria. All sites had to be open to the public, officially designated historic, nonprofit or state-funded and planning to complete a brick and mortar restoration.

“It’s very exciting to be a part of something like this,” said MaryLynn Pulscher, environmental education coordinator for Mill Ruins Park.

Mill Ruins Park offers excavation programs, which allow children and adults to take part in uncovering the past of Minneapolis.

If the park were to win the contest the money would go towards these programs. The last time Mill Ruins Park received this much funding, the Jenny Lind Elementary School spent six weeks in a row participating in the excavation programs.

“It’s a wonderful learning experience for the kids,” Pulscher said.  “And they get to uncover Minneapolis through a hands on experience.”

Another site included in the competition is the Basilica of Saint Mary. The Basilica hopes to restore its narthex and sacristy. The narthex is the lobby area in the front of the Basilica, while the sacristy is the area where ceremonial garments, known as vestments, are kept. If the Basilica can restore the narthex, it will be the first restoration of that section since it was originally built.

“I hope people don’t just do this for the restoration,” said Emily Carlson Hjeln, executive director of the Basilica Landmark. “But also for all we’ll be able to do through our outreach programs.”

If the Basilica can restore both the narthex and sacristy, Hjeln believes it will lead to a greater restoration of the entire Basilica.

The American Express Foundation and the National Trust for Historic Preservation aim to raise awareness of all the historic sites in the competition. The contest runs Sept. 20–Oct. 12, and the winner will be announced on Nov. 9.  

How to Vote

Visit www.facebook.com/PartnersinPreservation to participate. You may vote once a day. You can vote for more than just one of the historic sites. The site with the most votes wins, and the rest of the money will be split according to a special advisory committee of Twin Cities civic and preservation leaders.

Historic Sites

American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Ave.

Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts, 6666 E. River Road, Fridley

Basilica of Saint Mary, 88 North 17th St.

Chaska Athletic Park, 725 W. 1st St., Chaska

Christ Lutheran Church on Capital Hill, 105 University Ave W Saint Paul

C.S.P.S. Sokol Hall, West 7th, Saint Paul

Emerge Career and Technology Center, 1101 W. Broadway Ave. N., Suite 200

Episcopal Church of Transfiguration, 4557 Colfax Ave. S.

Fitzgerald Theater, 10 Exchange St. E. Saint Paul

Fort Snelling Upper Post, Building 67, 200 Tower Ave., Saint Paul

Harriet Tubman Center East, 3111 1st Ave. S

Hennepin Center for the Arts, 528 Hennepin Ave.

Historic Pilot Knob, 2100 Pilot Knob Road, Mendota Heights

James J. Hill House, 240 Summit Ave, Saint Paul

Landmark Center, 75 5th St, Saint Paul

Mill Ruins Park, 130 Portland Ave. S.

Minnehaha Park, 4801 S. Minnehaha Park Dr.

Minnesota State Fair Grandstand, 1265 Snelling Ave, Saint Paul

Minnesota Transportation Museum, 193 Pennsylvania Ave. E., Saint Paul

Pilgrim Baptist Church, 732 Central Ave. W., Saint Paul

Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery, 2945 Cedar Ave. S.

The Soap Factory, 518 Second St. SE

Washington County Historic Courthouse, 101 Pine St. W., Stillwater

Waterford Iron Bridge, Canada Ave., Northfield