Demolition of the University of Saint Thomas’ Loras Hall began during the last week of February. The Saint Paul City Council in January upheld a university appeal and overturned a Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) decision to deny the demolition of the 127-year-old structure. HPC action was required because the building is in the Summit Avenue West Historic District.
Loras Hall, which was built as a residence for Saint Paul Seminary students, was designed by noted architect Cass Gilbert and was one of only three original seminary buildings still remaining. Preservationists had argued that the building should be saved. UST officials countered that the building’s condition and design made reusing or moving it impractical.
The university is demolishing Loras to make way for a $100 million STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) facility. The 120,000-square-foot building will be located on Summit just west of the school’s Frey Science and Engineering Center and is scheduled to open in 2024. The construction plans will also have to go through the HPC.
Loras housed a wide variety of offices and university functions over the years. The building was fully documented before demolition began. Some pieces of the historic structure could be used in the new STEAM building. Other components of the building could be reused elsewhere.
— Jane McClure
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