The old Baptist church building in downtown Duluth could be a case study in how a building can be continually reinvented to it can live another day.

When it was built in 1948, it served its original function as the home of First Baptist Church of Duluth, replacing the church’s previous home, which had been destroyed by a fire. Later on, in 1982, it became Duluth’s City Hall for a while.

These days, however, it is part of Duluth’s budding Parsons Alley entertainment district, which bring in the building’s latest reinvention: A restaurant. More specifically, it is set to be converted into a home for Maple Street Biscuit Company this fall.

“Our locations really choose us and the lovingly restored 1948 Duluth Baptist Church is no exception” Maple Street co-founder Scott Moore said. “We saw how much Duluth loved this building saving it from demolition and then creating great buildings around it.”

Maple Street Biscuit Company is preparing to begin a build out in the church building this month, with plans to open its doors to the Duluth community in about four to six months.

The Jacksonville, Fla.-based restaurant chain already has locations in nine communities in the southeast. Most of them are in Florida, but it also has a location in Chattanooga. It is a breakfast and lunch-oriented business that is closed on Sundays.

As it’s name suggests, the restaurant’s menu is centered around various types of biscuit sandwiches, such as The Five, which includes a chicken breast, pecan wood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and sausage gravy in a flaky biscuit. There is a variant on The Five, called The Five and Dime, which adds a fried egg to the mix.

“Maple Street is an exciting new addition to downtown,” Duluth Mayor Nancy Harris said. “I think our 600 plus new residents will welcome a breakfast/lunch option. Maple Street comes with a strong community focused reputation and we welcome them to historic downtown Duluth.”

Maple Street is just the latest business to begin setting roots in the Parsons Alley as the district continues to fill out with new businesses. Dreamland Barbecue, simply Done Donuts, Personify and The Chocolaterie Luxury Chocolate are some of the businesses that have already opened there.

City officials also recently unveiled the “Phoenix” sculpture in the center of Parsons Alley, which they envision as eventually being a destination place in downtown Duluth where residents can gather concerts or other outdoor events.

Harris was coy about what else could be in Parsons Alley’s future, however.

“In regards to other properties, there are still a few more great surprises ahead,” she said.

Despite the coyness about projects still to be announced, there are more restaurants that have already been announced and are underway in the entertainment district.

Good Word Brew Pub, which is owned by the owners of Brick Store Pub, is building out its 7,500-square-foot space in a building located next to Dreamland. City officials have previously said a Korean steakhouse would be coming to Parsons Alley as well.

Meanwhile, Downtown Sandwich Shoppe Etc. was issued a business license on June 21 to operate across West Lawrenceville Street from Parsons Alley.

“We’ve been working for a very long time to create an atmosphere where inside the perimeter comes to visit outside the perimeter, so ITP OTP,” Duluth Economic Development Director Christopher McGahee told the Daily Post last November. “The real estate community, or the developer that we’re using, had never worked on a project outside the perimeter.

“When they first came out … it was a chance to just look at our site and give us their opinion of what they saw. They ended up being the one that wanted to invest in it as our partner.”

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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