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Sister Dorene King, director of the McCabe Renewal Center, talks about the history of the 100-year-old McCabe house in the building’s sun porch. The Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica are celebrating the anniversary of the house’s construction with an open house on Sunday. (Steve Kuchera /

Duluth's McCabe Renewal Center is a place for relaxation, reflection

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Duluth's McCabe Renewal Center is a place for relaxation, reflection
Duluth Minnesota 424 W. First St. 55802

For the past 37 years, Duluthians have been welcomed to the McCabe Renewal Center to pray, retreat and take tours of the nine-bedroom brick home at 2125 Abbotsford Ave.


“Everyone loves its beauty and its feeling of peace,” said Sister Dorene King, director of the McCabe Renewal Center. “Everyone from professionals at the Duluth public schools, University of Minnesota and St. Louis County Health and Service Department come here to experience the tranquil environment.”

On Sunday, the center will celebrate its 100th anniversary. Guests are invited to take tours of the home, listen to music and enjoy refreshments.

The center once was home to William McCabe Sr., a grain buyer, and his wife, Jane. They built the home in 1914 with their two children, John and Ben, and their maid. When William McCabe passed away in 1933, Jane McCabe moved into an apartment (she died in 1947), and the couple’s sons officially were left in charge of the home. The sons offered the house as a gift to the Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica in 1940 for the purpose of extending care to the elderly.

In the years that followed, the house has been used as a guest home for seniors and a dormitory for College of St. Scholastica students. The Benedictine Sisters lived there, and they ran a home for physically disabled adults. They offered piano lessons at the home.

The house also has undergone many physical transitions. There are many new furniture pieces inside; the fireplaces were replaced, and some of the rooms were remodeled. The kitchen was moved to the basement and the former kitchen became two bedrooms, and the butler’s pantry became a bathroom.

In 1977, the home officially became the McCabe Renewal Center and served as a space for group retreats, spiritual guidance and personal growth.

The center offers a variety of learning and enrichment programs, including “The Holy Trinity” on Sept. 6, a spiritual retreat; “The Lives of Three Saint Teresas” on Sept. 20; and an ongoing public faith-based prayer group that meets on various dates from September through December.  

St. Scholastica students also use the home as a prayer center, and various school programs use the space for gatherings.

“I’ve been told that the students have to the space as ‘grandma’s house experience,’ ” King said. “They feel so relaxed, safe and comfortable when they are here.

Today, John McCabe’s son Bill, 91, lives in Minneapolis and son Tom, 84, lives in Duluth.

“They still come up here from time to time and share their memories of the home with me,” King said. “They are very happy with the use of the home.”

Sunday’s event is free and open to the public. It starts at 2 p.m. and is expected to last until 5 p.m.

Alysee Shelton
(218) 720-4154