Downtown Miami

Third DCA sides with church in historic dispute with city of Miami

St. Jude Church
St. Jude Church Miami Herald

The Third District Court of Appeal denied a petition Wednesday by the city of Miami to overturn a lower court ruling quashing the city’s historic designation of the St. Jude Melkite Catholic Church in Brickell.

The Miami City Commission designated the church historic in 2013 after a heated hearing. Proponents argued that the church, built in the 1940s, was historic not just because of its architecture but also because under previous owners it ran an academy that housed and fed children who fled from Cuba in Operation Pedro Pan and harbored Cuban exiles.

On the other side of the issue, some pastors and parishioners worried that designating the church historic would impose costly restrictions on any future expansions, and potentially lock the Melkite institution into a structure originally created for worship by Roman Catholics, a denomination with conflicting aesthetic values.

Church leaders appealed the city’s decision to a panel of circuit court judges, who overturned the commission’s decision in September last year. The city then appealed, but was shot down Wednesday. Amy Boulris, an attorney representing the church, said the decision will allow the church to “continue to meet the spiritual needs of the growing downtown community.”