St Matthew's

01/03/2015 22 images Share: , , Album RSS
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St Matthew's was founded in 1908 by Rev. George Sellinger, and the church was completed in 1928 at a cost of $225,000. The design for St. Matthew's is modeled after the Cathedral of Aachen in Aachen, Germany and built in the Romanesque style. The number of congregants registered with the parish dropped from 4,170 in 1938 to 218 in 1990, three years before it was forced to closed. The last mass occurred March 3, 1993.

The Diocese sold the edifice to World Wide Bible Deliverance Inc., a religious outfit that failed to maintain the building; the property eventually ended up on public auction in 2006, but the new buyers then tried to unload St. Matthew’s via eBay almost immediately. Stained glass windows are missing. A few, including ones depicting The Nativity and The Annunciation, have somehow made their way to a Catholic church in Fargo, N.D.

The man who holds the deed to St. Matthew’s is Frank Beard, a local resident who acquired the property in 2009 from the folks who had tried to flip it on eBay. Beard, 46, grew up on nearby Schuele Avenue, where his mother still lives. He says he was helping with a neighborhood cleanup a couple years ago when he ran into one of St. Matthew’s owners, who seemed eager to get rid of the church. Beard volunteered to take it over, and a little paperwork later, the architectural treasure was his. Last year, he helped organize an Easter egg hunt on church grounds. This June, he says, he will plant 10 trees that bloom with white flowers on the premises. He envisions St. Matthew’s as a community center, with a playground in the choir loft, an eatery in the basement, and a stage for gospel music and lectures on health, education and other topics in the nave. But Beard needs money to make that happen, and he hasn’t held a job for about a decade. Government assistance is his only income. He hasn’t worked since hurting his spine while laboring in a warehouse years ago. Funding for St. Matthew’s renovation will have to come from somewhere else. ( "Somewhere else" appears to be from stripping the building, beginning with the radiators and continuing to copper flashing.

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