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No wrecking ball for Hurrle Hall

LITTLE FALLS--A lawsuit against the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls was dropped after the sisters stated they have no immediate plans to demolish 125-year-old Hurrle Hall.

Constructed in 1891, Hurrle Hall is a local historic landmark designated under the Little Falls heritage preservation ordinance. A lawsuit against the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls was dropped after the sisters stated they have no immediate plans to demolish the 125-year-old building. Submitted photo
Constructed in 1891, Hurrle Hall is a local historic landmark designated under the Little Falls heritage preservation ordinance. A lawsuit against the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls was dropped after the sisters stated they have no immediate plans to demolish the 125-year-old building. Submitted photo

LITTLE FALLS-A lawsuit against the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls was dropped after the sisters stated they have no immediate plans to demolish 125-year-old Hurrle Hall.

The Friends of Hurrle Hall filed suit in March after several months of trying to persuade the sisters to change their minds about razing the oldest building on the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls campus.

In a statement, the sisters said they will not proceed with demolition until at least 2019.

"Our Franciscan congregation is engaged in the final stages of developing a long-term campus utilization plan," the statement said. "Our goal is to find a party which will assume ownership, development and operation of our campus in a manner that is consistent with our Franciscan values of hospitality, simplicity, service to those who are poor, and care of the earth, while assuring that all of the 128 sisters are cared for in our home in Little Falls.

"To that end, our current intention is to undertake no deconstruction of the Hurrle Hall structure until at least 2019. This will allow time for study of alternative uses and to identify an owner who might undertake and finance the renovation of the Hurrle Hall structure for a new use compatible with our overall goal for our Little Falls campus. Should a new owner see a use for the Hurrle Hall structure, we would be supportive of their decision."

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The Friends of Hurrle Hall, Preservation Alliance of Minnesota and the heritage preservation department at the Minnesota Historical Society focused on the historical significance of the building and the opportunity for grant funds or tax credits to offset some of the costs of building rehabilitation and reuse. The Friends of Hurrle Hall filed suit after attempts at persuasion and compromise "were soundly refused by the Sisters leadership, the building was completely vacated and demolition seemed imminent," a Preservation Alliance of Minnesota news release stated.

The lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice, meaning that the Friends of Hurrle Hall can take legal action in the future if Hurrle Hall is again threatened with demolition by any party.

Constructed in 1891, Hurrle Hall is a local historic landmark designated under the Little Falls heritage preservation ordinance. Hurrle Hall also is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places and it is likely that other structures-as well as the campus as a whole-also meet the criteria for historic designation, the news release stated. Listing in the national register allows building owners/developers to utilize state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits, which offer a combined 40 percent income tax credit on qualified rehabilitation expenses.

"The Friends (of Hurrle Hall) remain committed to saving Hurrle Hall and facilitating its successful rehabilitation," the release stated. "Together with the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, which has served as an important partner in this advocacy effort, the Friends of Hurrle Hall will continue to promote the campus of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls as a historic asset within the community. Both organizations are working to attract developers to this unique opportunity for historic building reuse in central Minnesota."

The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota is a statewide nonprofit organization that "leads and inspires people to connect to historic places, promoting community vitality," the release stated.

The organization was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 1981 by Minnesota residents concerned about the future of the state's architectural and cultural landmarks.

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