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St. Stan's church a historic place?

The Friends of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County have been awarded a Minnesota Historical and Cultural Program grant in the amount of $3,800.

The purpose of the grant will be to conduct an evaluation of the St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Perham, Minnesota to determine its eligibility for inclusion on the National Register. A listing on the National Register of Historic Places increases recognition and protection of historic resources. The process of preparing an evaluation project enhances public understanding of the value of sacred places as irreplaceable centers that create and sustain community life.

Even though it is no longer a Catholic church, to many it will continue to be a place of shared memory, calling to mind the observances of birth, marriage and death that help to connect community across the generations.

This grant from the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Program, also known as Legacy grants, will provide funds to hire a professional historian to help with the research and eventually prepare the nomination. The St. Stanislaus Catholic Church is not the only historic structure to become vacant in Perham, but it is one where both parishioners and community members have begun early discussions about ways to preserve this community resource. 

According to Partners for Sacred Places, "sacred places can often serve to symbolize perseverance amidst rapid changes, permanence amidst decline, and dignity amidst devastation. Letting sacred places crumble or close is tantamount to losing millions of dollars a year in vitally needed anti-poverty and community building efforts." 

The St. Stanislaus Catholic Church has had a long-standing commitment of support for Someplace Safe, the women's crisis center, and early on in discussions the goal was to find a way to continue that commitment when the church eventually closed.

In the letter of intent that was signed by the Bishop of St. Cloud early this year, The History Museum, who may become the eventual owners of the property, have agreed that the building would be used exclusively for activities that promote the artistic, historic and cultural heritage and social welfare of the area such as family-oriented performances, gallery shows, and cultural exhibits and office space for Someplace Safe and other family oriented organizations.

Kris Warhol of Someplace Safe says that in addition to the women's crisis center, there are dozens of different groups and individuals involved in providing resources to people in need for whom the space could be useful. 

Lina Belar, director of the Friends of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County, said that she hopes the St. Stanislaus building will continue to be a permanent asset to the community. This Legacy grant is an exciting first step in that direction.