R.I.P. St. Margaret Mary Church of Morgan Park

St Margaret Mary Church 1 St Margaret Mary Church 2

The two photos above, posted to Facebook by Tim Beaulier, show yesterday’s demolition of St. Margaret Mary Church in Duluth’s Morgan Park neighborhood. WDIO-TV’s Eyewitness News reported last week the church was set to be razed.

Also known as the Church of Blessed Margaret Mary, it was built in the Spanish style in 1917 near the terminus of 88th Avenue West at 8830 Idaho St.

The church closed in October 2015 due to a shortage of priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Duluth, combined with a diminishing congregation and resources.

Morgan Park’s other church, United Protestant, remains standing. The two churches are shown below in a graphic from the Morgan Park Neighborhood Revitalization Plan of 2009.


Below: Historic photos of the church’s construction, finished exterior, interior and rectory.

St Margaret Mary of Duluth 1917 Church_of_Blessed_Margaret_Mary

Blessed_St_Margaret_Mary_Catholic_Church_Duluth St_Margaret_Marys_Rectory_Duluth



about 7 years ago

Sacrilege.  That church was an integral part of the urban fabric which defines the Morgan Park neighbourhood.  Planning law is seriously deficient if it's devoid of any conservation statutes that protect and maintain the form and fabric of the cityscape.  The demolition of the church has damaged the urban morphology of all of Duluth by further fractioning its visual and functional cohesion.

City planning mumbo jumbo aside, that was a lovely and unusual church built of the best construction and it had aesthetic qualities.  Why are people building new houses of worship that resemble sheds on West Arrowhead Road instead of recycling these beautiful old ones?

One can argue the financial implications of declining congregations and rising costs to maintain empty churches but what price do we put on our heritage and our history?

Europe would be a very different place were it not for its ancient churches, chapels and cathedrals.  

For shame on the decision makers of this travesty!


about 7 years ago

I concur, this was another example of the diocese of Duluth not valuing the role that they play in Duluth's heritage and community.  We saw this before with the threat of demolition to St. Peter's Church.  This church was part of the original master plan of Gary, a company town that is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.  Attempts have been made to designate the community (all contributing structures) as a Local Landmark, but to no avail.  Property owners would have to agree to the designation (in theory they don't but in practice they would).  Designation would bring with it access to tax credits and heritage preservation grants.  Repurposing these buildings is green/sustainable development and it keeps our neighborhoods intact.  It might do the diocese well to recognize their historic role in Duluth and be champions of heritage preservation, Lord knows they could use the positive publicity.

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