As 120-year-old Stevens Point Church faces demolition, memorial to group plans

A group of Stevens Point history buffs will hold a memorial service on Sunday for a 120-year-old church building that is slated for demolition.

The Trinity Lutheran Church building at Stevens Point is a small Gothic Revival style church built at the turn of the 20th century. From the late 1980s it was the home of the Turning Point Dance Studio. A broken wooden figure of a dancer is still visible on a panel in front.

But the building has been vacant since 2013, and in 2017 the city bought it for redevelopment.

Last year, Stevens Point deemed the building irreparable. In January, he took demolition offers.

“There’s nothing else like it in Stevens Point,” said Chelsey Pfiffner, a Stevens Point-area native who lives in Milwaukee. Pfiffner maintains the Historic Stevens Point website and is the organizer of the memorial.

Although a demolition date has not been set, it is too late to make an effort to preserve the building, Pfiffner said. It has been badly damaged by years of neglect. But she hopes the memorial service will allow people who had a connection to the building – in any of its incarnations as a church, rental property or dance academy – to share memories and appreciations. She said she hoped it would help draw attention to the need in Stevens Point and elsewhere to preserve buildings of historic significance.

“I’ve seen many buildings come and go,” she said. “Some of them are more heartbreaking than others. A building isn’t always the building – sometimes it’s the story that people attach to that building that makes it so important to them.”

A few blocks from Trinity Lutheran Church, an effort to rehabilitate a historic downtown theater lasted decades before city inspectors in 2019 discovered it posed safety hazards. other downtown buildings and order it to be razed. The city ended up demolishing most of the back of this building, but retained the facade and parts of the building’s facade. A local developer then bought it with the intention of creating an event space. In fact, this company will claim some materials from Trinity Lutheran Church and incorporate them into their plans.

Debates over old buildings are not unique to Stevens Point. In the nearby town of Biron, paper company ND Paper informed local leaders late last year that it wanted to sell a historic “white house” that adjoins the mill to the town and move it out of town. property of ND Paper. In Merrill, Ascension Health System in early 2021 demolished a historic but decaying mansion that once belonged to town founder TB Scott. And the La Crosse Historic Preservation Commission released a list of the city’s 10 most endangered places last year.

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In December, Pfiffner and local designer Barry Calnan took 360-degree images of the building to preserve its history. Like the memorial service, Pfiffner said it was an important part of preservation efforts.

“There are many different aspects of preservation,” Pfiffner said. “People feel like it has a lot to do with the architectural and physical part of it. But even…doing that scan: that’s historic preservation. We preserve the idea and the thought, and people will see it.”

The Trinity Lutheran Church building celebration will take place Sunday at 1 p.m. outside the building at 1700 Strongs Ave. at Stevens Point, followed by a reception.

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