Van Duzer project obtains national historic landmark status

Leslie Van Duzer (Architecture) was recently named chair of the Friends of Christ Church Lutheran board of directors, a secular non-profit established to preserve Eliel and Eero Saarinen's landmark church in south Minneapolis. Ozayer Saloojee (Architecture) is also a board member of the organization. Saloojee lectured on the church in the Eero Saarinen symposium and created a photo exhibition on the subject with Vincent James's office. He is also working on the first monograph on the building.

Christ Church Lutheran was designated a National Historic Landmark on January 16, 2009. A building's designation as a National Historic Landmark is more significant than being placed on the National Register of Historic Places. According to the National Historic Landmarks Web site, only three percent of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places are designated as National Historic Landmarks. Within Minnesota, only 23 properties are National Historic Landmarks and Christ Church Lutheran is the only sacred structure.

The National Park Service, the official sponsor of the project, selected Rolf Anderson (B.A. Arch., 1983) to prepare the National Historic Landmark nomination. Anderson presented the nomination to the National Historic Landmarks Committee in Washington, DC in October 2008.

The Friends of Christ Church Lutheran are in the planning stage for a capital campaign. "As we head into our capital campaign, this [National Historic Landmark] designation will be a very useful endorsement," said board chair Van Duzer. "It demonstrates the significance of the building at a national level and will help us raise funds for its preservation."