Historic St. Peter’s Church Painting a New Future

Northland Uncovered: St. Peter's Church Restored

Imagine an old church, constructed in the 1920s, with historical paintings and architecture just waiting to be restored once again.

Funded by a basic partnership with the Minnesota Historical Society through a legacy partnership, the connection between Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps and Duluthian Artist Jeffrey Larson, takes us to this week’s Northland Uncovered.

“We’re looking for potters, not programmers,” Rolf Hagberg with Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps said.

A simple request, but as time goes on, it’s a task becoming more and more difficult.

“When I call people up and tell them who we are and what we’re doing, all of a sudden projects start coming out of the woodwork,” Hagberg said.

Rewarded with a positive message, Rolf is building happiness in his life, and the community.

“And we found that there’s no lack of young people that are excited about historic preservation,” Hagberg said.

Exposing today’s youngsters to different types of preservation work, by using the power of history to transform lives.

Hagberg said, “We have a crew that’s on for 10 weeks this summer.”

A crew, spending their summer plastering and reconstructing the old walls of a Duluth church.

“Finding St. Peters Church was really just ideal for us,” Jeffrey Larson with Great Lakes Academy of Fine Art said.

Originally built back in 1926, and recently sold for $80,000 dollars, the St. Peter’s Church will soon be painting a new picture.

“We actually have students moving to Duluth right now,” Larson said.

A venture up North, for an experience, waiting to be painted, by restoring old architecture one coat at a time.

“I was fortunate and blessed to have been able to study with one of the few schools in the world that still teaches classical painting,” Larson recalled.

The Great Lakes Academy of Fine Art founder moved to the City by the lake with his wife, nearly 25 years ago. Now, he’s looking to mix art, with academics.

“They show up and we give them a pencil and a paintbrush and here’s how we do it and we just work on their work with them and take them through the whole process of being a classical painter,” Larson said.

With only a dozen classical art schools in the world, Duluth will soon be home to the professions freshest canvas.

The Academy will be a four year apprentice program, accepting five to seven students every year.

“To be able to be a link maybe in passing it on for future generations just doesn’t get better than that,” Larson said.

Hagberg explained, “We always have a technical specialist involved.”

Professional trades people, using knowledge to restore and tech, sharing tools one job at a time.

“We’re the only Corps in the country that’s specifically focused on that with a crew model that goes out and does these different projects,” Hagberg said.

Using techniques passed down for 500 years. For now, eager volunteers are preparing this historic building for a new beginning, one that will teach and continue painting a future for classical arts.

The goal is to open the new Academy this September.

An open house will be taking place starting August 4th and wrapping up August 7th.

For more information, check out the Academy’s website.

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