MELROSE -- The skyline over the city of Melrose will look a lot different in the comings days.

Crews are demolishing the historic St. Mary's church this week, which has sat empty after a fire heavily damaged the building in 2016.

Residents and parishioners looked on as heavy machinery took apart the 121-year-old church.

Gerry Osendorf was part of the group (Restore St. Mary's) that tried to save the church and says watching it come down is heartbreaking.

We uncovered every stone that needed to be uncovered in order to save it, and we were unsuccessful.

Back in 2018, the Diocese of St. Cloud and Parish Council members announced they would not be restoring the church but rather building a new church a few blocks over.

Osendorf says even with a new church, to him it will never be the same.

I will not be apart of that church. There are a number of people who have left the St. Mary's Parish.

Construction of the new church is underway and expected to wrap up this winter.

The blazed caused roughly $5-million in damage and was ruled an arson. A 13-year-old was charged with intentionally starting the fire after confessing to authorities back in 2018.

St. Mary's Church in Melrose was dedicated in 1899.

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