St. Louis County officials want to raze historic jail
It's a city landmark. It's on the National Register of Historic Places. It's part of Duluth's Civic Center, a complex of government buildings that's a standout example of the national "City Beautiful" architectural movement of a century ago. But St.
It's a city landmark.
It's on the National Register of Historic Places.
It's part of Duluth's Civic Center, a complex of government buildings that's a standout example of the national "City Beautiful" architectural movement of a century ago.
But St. Louis County officials, saying the old St. Louis County Jail is too costly to save, want to tear it down.
Before the county can demolish the building, constructed in 1923, it must get the blessing of the city's Historic Preservation Commission.
That won't be easy.
The county applied for a city demolition permit last month. Finding the application incomplete on Wednesday, commissioners sent it back to the county.
They asked, where are the accompanying reports and cost analyses? Where are the cost comparisons of demolition versus repairs and adapting it for other uses?
County officials say the handsome gray granite building with lion-head adornments is in poor condition and needs extensive and costly repairs.
But historic status has its protections. Demolition generally is forbidden. As part of the Civic Center historic district, razing the old jail cannot be allowed to have an adverse effect on the rest of it.
"It's not just the demolition, it's what's going in its place and how it affects the historic district," said commissioner Tony Dierckins.
In response to the preservation commission's demands, the county may send commissioners a stack of studies and reports that have been done since the jail closed in 1995 and prisoners were moved to the new jail near the Duluth International Airport.
The county has looked into renovation costs and reuse options, including turning the building into offices, a museum and bed-and-breakfast inn. Razing it, at an estimated cost of $580,000, and replacing it with a parking lot was apparently the cheapest.
The Historic Preservation Commission will invite county representatives to its Feb. 17 meeting, where commissioners plan to take up the matter again.
If the commission denies the permit, the county can appeal to the Duluth City Council.