S. Morin: Destroying the fabric of Lewiston

I, like anyone else rooting for the revitalization of Lewiston’s downtown, have been pulling my hair out upon the announcement that Central Maine Health plans to tear down St. Joseph’s Church.

Why? Well, let’s just open a textbook from “Obviously Stupid Things You Don’t Do That Will Destroy the Fabric of a City 101” and find out.

Chapter 1: Don’t destroy historic buildings. Especially when they are vital to a city’s civic and architectural heritage. That historic nature of a city is what makes it special and sets it apart from others. Not many people believe the building can’t be preserved. St. Joseph’s has been out of commission for four years, less time than it would take for me to name the wealth of historic churches that have been preserved and continue to serve their communities in many different ways.

Chapter 2: Don’t put surface parking lots in the middle of a busy economic corridor. Lewiston’s commercial future exists downtown. The potential for a pleasant, walkable district is there. Businesses see this and are excited to be a part of this revitalization. But surface parking lots in the middle of a main downtown corridor are an eyesore that discourage that progress. Parking has its place, just not there.

Epilogue: What can we do? I know the sentiment in my hometown of Lewiston is overwhelmingly negative. People value this building and have personal connections to it. They need to let CMH know their thoughts.

Residents can stop the destruction from happening.

Shane Morin, Minneapolis, Minn.

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RONALD RIML's picture

I don't remember this amount of concern when the old

stone building which had once been Grace Lutheran Church on Main Street was gobbled up and destroyed by CMMC in 1996.

There's a reason for letting sleeping dogs lie...

The reason for this is that the Grace Lutheran Church belonged to a small Protestant group with Germanic ancestry. This was sad but not all encompassing, just as the razing of United Baptist Church didn't cause much a stir more recently.

But St. Joseph's, located near the Masonic Hall on Hospital Square, is at the huge social fault line that has divided Lewiston: between Catholic and Protestant, Worker and Management, Ethnic immigrant and Nativist, the two existing hospitals and more

This fault line has what has informed much of Lewiston's history.

St. Joseph's was built in the face of Know-Nothing sentiment.

Why CMMC would want to trifle with this is beyond me.

RONALD RIML's picture

And 'Know-Nothing' Sentiment thrives yet ever so strongly.....

In Lew-ees-tun, Oh, Lew-ees-ton..... Doesn't have a Clue-ees-ton......

 's picture

I see this as more of a

I see this as more of a failure of the city's zoning code than anything. I have a lot more of an issue with the parking lot at that spot than tearing down the church. The city has zoning "districts" where they want to encourage certain developments, but do little to make sure that that happens. If the zoning code didn't allow for a parking lot there, which it clearly shouldn't, this problem wouldn't arise in the first place.

Jeff Johnson's picture

plain and simple...

You want to save St. Joe's? Put your money where your mouth is. CMMC showed how much the church and land was worth to them. I have yet to hear of any fundraising to "Save the Church!"

Start organizing and fundraising out there in Minneapolis. Mail in your check.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Chapter 3: Don’t keep

Chapter 3: Don’t keep monuments to pedophilia to remind victims of the horror they experienced?

Let's give CMMC the go ahead.

So we should removal all remnants of Catholic Culture?

So we should remove all remnants of Catholic and ethnic culture from Lewiston? Remove St. Joseph's, St. Patrick's, Peter and Paul...? St. Marys?

Like what they wanted during the Know-Nothing Era?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

No, but this is no longer the

No, but this is no longer the time to try to save it. We've had that opportunity for the past four years and have done NOTHING until now, which may well be too late. Shame on US for our lethargy.

Shame on CMMC for not having a conscience.

Shame on Central Maine Medical Center for building a parking lot.

We expected better of them.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

In the process of sitting on

In the process of sitting on the haunches of our expectations for them, we allowed OUR opportunity for altering the course of events to pass us by. I agree that what CMMC is doing is not what I would like to see happen, but you don't get to complain about the lousy quality of the apples when you decide to go pick them from the tree on Christmas Eve.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Moreover, they want to spend

Moreover, they want to spend CMMC's money doing it.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

That is up to the community.

That is up to the community. However, I can say the Catholic Church destroyed its reputation beyond repair, perhaps forever.

Jim Cyr's picture

Mr. Gravel,

I am all for "Free Enterprise", but my question for CMG in making a parking lot " across the street " is how will there be a smooth transition for those parking there to get to work across the street ? That is, I am assuming the parking lot is primarily for the folks that work there. Main St. is a very busy street, day or night. I am unable to see who else would benefit from the parking lot, except the Shriners ? Parking for all those using the hospital is very badly laid out. Especially for those desiring a handicapped slot. They need a multi-level parking garage as near to the entrances as possible.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Yes, but who am I to question

Yes, but who am I to question those decisions. After all, free enterprise is free, not necessarily wise.

I’m defending CMMC’s property rights, and I’m chastising those how sat on the sidelines until someone with deep pockets bought the property. Then they decided to criticize CMMC for exercising their rights.

Jason Theriault's picture

Wow, I agree with Mark

I agree with ya, if the church means that much to you, get a group together and buy it. Otherwise, let someone put the space to good use instead of sitting empty and useless.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Wow, I rushed out and

Wow, I rushed out and purchased 2-year supply of emergency food. Like all the planets aligning in the solar system, perhaps the end of life as we know it.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You two guys being in a

You two guys being in a agreement is like a lion bedding down with a sea turtle. 0O:-)

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Okay, who is the lion? Me,

Okay, who is the lion? Me, right?

Jason Theriault's picture

Turtle > lion

As long as I can be a ninja turtle, I'm all set with you being a lion

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I fold.

I fold.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

LMAO....Good one.

LMAO....Good one.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

That is not for the Pirate to

That is not for the Pirate to say. You and Jason will have to sort that out between yourselves. (Have I just engaged in a rare display of political correctness? I have, haven't I? AARRGHH!!)

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Yes, but who am I to question

Yes, but who am I to question those decisions. After all, free enterprise is free, not necessarily wise.

You are allowed to question everything.

In a free society, we are allowed to question everything. Including the marketplace you concede is "not necessarily wise."


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