2012-01-10 / Front Page

Demolition or not?

Parish: Get a nunnery to thee?
BY DARREN FISHELL Times Record Staff


FACED WITH THE Brunswick Village Review Board’s opposition to demolishing this former residence of Ursuline nuns on Pleasant Street, representatives of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Brunswick and All Saints Parish are seeking someone to move the building to a new location. 
TROY R. BENNETT / THE TIMES RECORD FACED WITH THE Brunswick Village Review Board’s opposition to demolishing this former residence of Ursuline nuns on Pleasant Street, representatives of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Brunswick and All Saints Parish are seeking someone to move the building to a new location. TROY R. BENNETT / THE TIMES RECORD St. John’s solicits movers for former Ursuline Sisters home

BRUNSWICK — The Brunswick Village Review Board is scheduled tonight to make a final recommendation on a demolition permit for a former rectory building on the property of St. John the Baptist Church, at the corner of Pleasant and Union streets.

In the meantime, church officials continue to seek anyone interested in moving the building to another property.

According to a Dec. 21 memo from Donald Leaver, the business coordinator for All Saints Parish, of which St. John’s is a member, four people have contacted the church with initial interest in the rectory building.

But none have followed through. One, Leaver wrote, was deterred by a price tag for moving the building that would likely exceed $100,000.

The order of Ursuline Sisters lived in the building during its approximately 90 years of service to St. John’s and its parochial school. The parish formally bid adieu to the order with a special Mass in November 2004.

The last Ursuline to work actively at the school was Sister Angela Krippendorf, who served as principal of the school until 1999, when she was appointed as the provincial leader of the Ursulines in the northeastern United States.

In a Jan. 3 letter to the Village Review Board, engineer Charles Wiercinski wrote that maintaining or renovating the building would be a financial drain for the parish. Maintaining the building in its current state has cost an average $11,000 annually since 2004.

“It is no longer economically viable to maintain a substantially vacant building,” Wiercinski wrote.

In a commercial property evaluation, the building was estimated to be worth around $110,000, with a cost around $230,000 to renovate. Associate Broker Peter Harrington, of Malone Commercial Brokers, Inc., wrote in a Dec. 28 letter that the building “is in poor condition overall.”

“In my opinion, the property would need a complete gut rehab to make it habitable again,” Harrington wrote.

For the structure that was built as a convent around the turn of the 20th century by Brunswick architect Samuel B. Dunning, according to a survey by the Pejepscot Historical Society, members of the Village Review Board said transport to another property would be a good outcome.

“While that would be great if someone took it, that’s not really relevant for us,” Village Review Board member Janet Roberts said at the board’s October meeting.

Tonight, the board will home in on the question of demolition, which it previously postponed with a 90- day moratorium to further weigh the building’s historical value against the church’s desire to create accessible parking for people with disabilities near a lift on that side of the church.

“The proposed removal of the former rectory building will greatly enhance accessibility to the church by allowing handicapped parishioners to drive right up to the corner of the building where the lift is located,” architect Scott Simons wrote to Leaver in a Nov. 30 letter. “The current situation requires that they park more than 100 feet from the door to the elevator and navigate a long walkway between the church and the rectory.”

The church’s plans would create a parking lot with grass lawns and trees between the lot and Union and Pleasant streets.

The Village Review Board will meet at 7:15 p.m. today in the town council chambers at Brunswick Station, 16 Station Ave.

dfishell@timesrecord.com

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