St. Joseph's demolition on hold

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The interior of the former St. Joseph's Church on Main Street in Lewiston looks bare without the stained-glass windows, frescoes and organ. Plans to demolish the church and its rectory have been put on hold.

LEWISTON — Plans to demolish St. Joseph's Parish are off the table for the moment, city officials confirmed Thursday.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The interior of the former St. Joseph's Church on Main Street in Lewiston.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The interior of the former St. Joseph's Church on Main Street in Lewiston.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The interior of the former St. Joseph's Church on Main Street in Lewiston.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The interior of the former St. Joseph's Church on Main Street in Lewiston.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The interior of the former St. Joseph's Church on Main Street in Lewiston.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The interior of the former St. Joseph's Church on Main Street in Lewiston.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The interior of the former St. Joseph's Church on Main Street in Lewiston.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Photos of the empty St. Joseph's Church and rectory on Main Street in Lewiston

Central Maine Healthcare has temporarily withdrawn its application to demolish the 159-year-old church and the nearby rectory to create parking for nearby Central Maine Medical Center.

The city's Historic Preservation Review Board was scheduled to review the demolition at a meeting Thursday afternoon. That meeting was canceled.

Lewiston Director of Planning and Code Enforcement Gil Arsenault said it means the historic building is safe for now, but the hospital group could come back later with demolition plans.

"It does not mean they won't re-file and pursue the demolition," Arsenault said. "They can ask for a certificate of appropriateness, and there is no guarantee they can get it. It buys everyone some time."

Central Maine Healthcare spokesman Chuck Gill said the hospital group will use the delay to take another look at options for the site.

"Our intention is to conduct another comprehensive evaluation of all viable options for the church," Gill said. "We understand this church's significance to the community and the emotions around it, so we will look at it thoroughly. We'll conduct a comprehensive evaluation and come back in a few months, once that review is complete."

Gill said all potential uses are on the table.

"We don't know where we will end up because we are looking at all viable options," Gill said. "We won't know until we finish that work."

Central Maine Healthcare bought the 253 Main St. church and the adjacent buildings for $125,000 in May. The company filed an application to demolish the building in July.

Local residents and historic architecture buffs protested, saying the building should be preserved.

"There are some people in the community who I have communicated with who think they might be able to pull something off," Arsenault said. "Obviously, these folks own the building, so if someone wants to do something there, they'd need to work with the hospital."

According to an architectural and structural study and review of the church filed by Central Maine Healthcare, the building was constructed in the mid-1800s. Local historian Douglas Hodgkin said the building's cornerstone was lain in September 1865 and the church was consecrated in 1867.

The church itself was designed by Irish-born architect Patrick C. Keely, who went on to design more than 600 churches around the world — as well as a church in Bangor, one in Biddeford and two in Portland, according to Central Maine Healthcare's report.

Basement frescoes were added in 1877, stained-glass windows in 1917 and 12 bronze bells in 1926. It was placed on the National Historic Register in 1989.

The Catholic diocese decommissioned the church in 2009 and the frescoes and stained glass windows were removed.

staylor@sunjournal.com

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Comments

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Given the recent definition of stupid.......

Given the recent definition of stupid, I better refrain from joining in here, according to the new definition, most of what I post is stupid. Man, the only posts I used to think were stupid, were the ones I read before my first cup of coffee in the morning. Other than that, just about anything else goes in my book. OH No, I think I just made another stupid post....................

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Certain topics and forums

Certain topics and forums create strange alliances. This is definitely one of them. Bring along an extra sweater and prepare to be attacked and insulted like never before. But, you can avoid all that by simply agreeing with him.

Brian Franck's picture

If you are referring to Mr. Gravel,....

No, I don't!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

IGNORE KEY ACTIVATION! Your

IGNORE KEY ACTIVATION!
Your message cannot be delivered to the intended recipient. Please try again later.

Wisdom... Respect.

Wow... A change of heart... Or at least a delay... But a good sign... A respect for the host community.

Respect.

Where it all starts.

---SWL

 's picture

who pays for this?

who will be paying for the up keep of this? the local tax payers like they are doing for the empty bates mill?

Brian Franck's picture

No!

The local tax payers will not be paying for this! They do not own the building. Central Maine Healthcare Corporation does.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Then who WILL pay for it? You

Then who WILL pay for it? You don't have a clue, do you?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Then what will you do if CMMC

Then what will you do if CMMC refuse to invest money into the building. Instead, the let it sit and rot or put it back on the market.
I don't see CMMC being willing to spend large sums of money for repair.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Those who want to preserve it

Those who want to preserve it don't give a hoot as to who pays....as long as it's someone else's money.

Brian Franck's picture

There is only one "hoot" here!

And that is you, Mr. St. Jean! You do not know who will be contributing to the cause. I certainly will not be coming to you seeking a donation!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Come around looking for

Come around looking for money; you might be pleasantly surprised. But I know by your posts that you lack the stones to do anything quite that manly.

Bob White's picture

Really Paul

All these do gooders want to save this property I bet none came forward when the chance was there to buy it but now when someone has come forward they sure would like to be apart of spending the money. Its funny you think if you paid for something you should be able to do with it as you want there USE to be a country that you could do that.

Brian Franck's picture

Too many naysayers!

How can Mr. White possibly know if any of those "do gooders" would not be willing to come forward and contribute to saving St. Joseph's Church? And, as far as paying for something is concerned, people are allowed to buy animals for pets. They are just not allowed to take the animal out to the front lawn and beat it to death! Responsible ownership is the key here.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

True...now we've got people

True...now we've got people walking around with their heads up their butts and both their hands in other peoples' wallets.

Brian Franck's picture

Are you speaking of yourself?

I am going to keep my hands out of your wallet!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

While you're at it, try

While you're at it, try keeping your head out of your butt.

Bob White's picture

The new America Its no longer

The new America Its no longer "ask what you can do for your country" its " What people and my country should do for me because "

Under the sun that shines for all....

Nothing really changes under the sun... Not really... Even through we tell ourselves we're different.

Human nature is the same as it was for the ancient Greeks.

Even in America, with it's belief in its exceptionalism.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You question America's

You question America's exceptionalism?

As a skeptic...

I question everything.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I had a kid who questioned

I had a kid who questioned everything, once.
I dropped him off at an orphanage.

Brian Franck's picture

I would expect that out of you!

Were you dropped off at an orphanage? That is probably why you make such "dumb" comments!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

What are you going to do

What are you going to do about it?

Heritage structure.

Our culture: "The church itself was designed by Irish-born architect Patrick C. Keely, who went on to design more than 600 churches around the world — as well as a church in Bangor, one in Biddeford and two in Portland.

Basement frescoes were added in 1877, stained glass windows in 1917 and 12 bronze bells in 1926. It was placed on the National Historic Register in 1989."

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

If you left 40 years ago for

If you left 40 years ago for a journey in space and came back yesterday, you'd think you landed on the wrong planet.

Yep

Yep. With Gays marrying and a black president.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Hell, those are the least of

Hell, those are the least of it.

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