Demolition crews tearing down the former St. Andrew’s Church on Como Avenue arrived Tuesday to find their equipment vandalized overnight.
Someone had painted “DON’T DO IT” on a lift, an excavator and a compressor left at the site of the church demolition, happening this week in preparation for a planned Twin Cities German Immersion School expansion.
Photos taken by school officials show the painted graffiti brushed onto the equipment, and paint covering the front window of the excavator cab. The demolition wasn’t significantly delayed by the vandalism, and a spokesman for the project said the damage was reported to police. The east wall of the former church had been torn down by midday Tuesday.
The demolition of the former sanctuary, deconsecrated in 2011, has been a flashpoint in the neighborhood, as nearby residents and preservationists have fought to keep the brick-faced former Catholic church intact. That included an effort to win historic designation for St. Andrews, which ultimately failed in a City Council vote and in a court challenge.
The campus, including classrooms on the site, was purchased six years ago by the German immersion school. Administrators said the former sanctuary wasn’t functional as school space and have proposed a $5 million replacement.
Neighbors gathered at the site in a silent protest Monday morning, as heavy equipment was marshalled in the school parking lot to start tearing down the main church structure. The demolition is scheduled to be complete by the time school starts on Aug. 26. The school is already using part of the former Warrendale Presbyterian Church across the street for student use, and hopes to have its new building complete for the start of the 2020-2021 school year.