LEWISTON — Restoration work to the former St. Joseph’s Church on Main Street will begin near the end of the month even as owner Central Maine Healthcare considers what will ultimately happen there.

“We know one thing we are going to do,” said Steve Gauthier, Central Maine Healthcare’s vice president of operations. “We want to create a very large meeting area. You try to play to the strengths of a building and a strength of an old church, particularly one built the way this one is, is to have a large gathering or meeting area.”

But Gauthier said just how it will be used depends on what workers find as they begin renovations. Gauthier said workers already are working to remove mold from the building’s basement and should begin replacing the roof by Nov. 30.

They’ll move back indoors once the roof is complete and begin assessing the basement’s structural integrity.

“The basement needs mold abatement and we’ll have to do some excavation and some structural work to figure out why there is so much water leaking in and determine what we can do to stabilize it,” Gauthier said. “Going forward, we need to determine if it can support a second small mezzanine area. That’s something we’d like to do, to increase space there.”

The church was built in 1855, placed on the National Historic Register in 1989 and decommissioned by the Catholic Diocese in 2009.

Central Maine Healthcare bought the 257 Main St. church and the adjacent buildings for $125,000 in May 2013 and filed an application to demolish the building two months later. The parent company of Central Maine Medical Center withdrew its demolition plans in August 2013 to look for alternative uses.

The original buildings on the property included the Victorian and Gothic-themed church and the three-story, Victorian-style rectory.

Workers removed the rectory at 253 Main St. last spring. The land under the rectory will be used to provide better access to St. Joseph’s Church itself and parking for CMMC.

Gauthier said he expects the roof work will take at least a month and the overall project will be finished in 18 months.

“There will be constant activity in that church, pretty much, from now on,” he said.

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