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St. Andrews Center, located off Union Avenue, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Staff File Photo

The St. Andrews Center, an urban multicultural center once known as Highland Park Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was approved earlier this week for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

It was the only Chattanooga area site approved by a state review board for the list, which is under the auspices of the National Park Service, and is expected to be official by the end of March.

"We have felt the building was worthy to be recognized in this way," said Kristi Strode, executive director of the St. Andrews Center. "It's a rare jewel sitting over here."

Constructed between 1907 and 1916, the center was renamed St. Andrews Methodist Church in 1939. The church closed in 2004 when membership dwindled but reopened later that year as a multicultural center. The center board assumed ownership of the building in 2011.

Paul Archambault, historic preservationist planner with the Southeast Tennessee Development District, said the building was nominated to the national register mainly for its neoclassical architecture.

"It's a rare design in Chattanooga," he said. "The only other [local] church with a similar style is First Presbyterian Church."

The application, prepared by Archambault, describes the building as covered with cream-colored brick and set upon a cut stone foundation.

The application states, "the building [designed by the architectural firm of Bearden and Foreman] features original stained glass windows and an Akron-style floor plan, which was a popular design in many Methodist churches in the United States in the early 20th century. The edifice's roof includes an octagonal cupola and its façade features six Scamozzi columns sheltered by a decorative pediment."

The center will join 85 other Chattanooga structures on the National Register.

One of those is the Highland Park Methodist Episcopal Church, which later became Asbury Methodist Church and is just a block away on Bailey Avenue.

That building is now owned by Highland Park Baptist Church.

Strode said placement on the register should help the organization in its attempt to seek historical preservation grant money.

She said restoring the sanctuary ceiling would be one of the first priorities.

"There is quite a bit of water damage there," Strode said, "and the water damage has to be addressed.

She said the center also has a "desperate need" for better handicap accessibility.

Strode said the process for National Register recognition was initiated by board president Joseph Madida and her predecessor, former interim executive director Michelle Hayes.

One aspect that appeared to impress the state review board, she said, was the building's present use.

"It's a living building," she said. "It's not a historic relic but [is] alive and thriving."