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St. Michael’s Episcopal Church demolition underway in Gainesville

Published: Dec. 27, 2018 at 7:12 PM EST
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The fate of St Michael's Episcopal Church in NW Gainesville was undecided since it last closed its doors in 2016.

Now the church is being torn down ahead of a meeting that would have discussed it's preservation.

The waiting game is over for some Gainesville residents challenging the owners and a potential developer about what was to become of the old St Michael's Episcopal Church building.

A community group named Gainesville Modern had a vision of preserving it.

“Unfortunately, this work of architecture could have easily been converted to a number of uses. It could have continued to be a church, it could have been a great performance hall,” Morris Hylton, Gainesville Modern President, said.

The church owners, the Episcopal Diocese of Florida announced the removal of the building calling it an "eyesore" in a statement saying: “The building has fallen into serious disrepair, is structurally unsound with extensive wood rot, and has become home for a variety of rodents."

"I spent twenty years accessing buildings, that building was very sound,” Hylton said.

Gainesville Modern did put in a request to Gainesville's Historic Preservation Board to potentially save the building Hylton says the Diocese was notified.

The Diocese's statement notes:"Based on recent actions by a group of citizens, the Diocese accelerated our plans to take down the building because this group - without even a courtesy notice to the Diocese - attempted to take control of the property by having it improperly listed on the State of Florida's Master Site File."

If the group been successful, the Diocese says they could have lost control of the building and the property.

The diocese had plans to sell the land to a development group that would work to rezone the land to allow for the building of restaurants and commercial businesses.

At this time, the Diocese's communications director says there are no official plans for future land use.

The church is still on the agenda for Gainesville's historic preservation board on January 2nd but questions remain on what's left to preserve.