By Celine Klosterman
FAIRFIELD – Nearly two years after dedicating its new church building, St. Mary Parish has sold property associated with its former church.
St. Mary’s sold land on which the parish’s former church stood, an old school building, shed and garage Oct. 4 to the Bonnell Building Project, Inc. The company works to help community members launch new efforts in social entrepreneurship, science, technology, business and the arts.
Funds from the sale covered the cost of a rectory St. Mary’s bought in June and helped pay down the mortgage on the $6.7 million church dedicated in January 2010, said Father Stephen Page, pastor.
The former St. Mary Church was torn down in summer 2010, about 102 years after it was built. The building had been plagued by structural problems.
The school building, DeCoursey Hall, had been used for religious education classes, meetings and a preschool program before St. Mary’s new facility was built.
It was a miracle St. Mary’s found a rectory less than a half-mile from the new church, Fr. Page said. The 1,472-square-foot house, built in 1985, is a pleasant change from the 82-year-old former rectory located near railroad tracks, he added. The older house on 2 ½ acres of property had been divided into nearly 30 rooms to serve as rental homes for students at Parsons College, which closed in 1973. “I’m living the new, great American dream of downsizing,” Fr. Page said.
He voiced thanks for parishioners who added new carpet, paint and other updates to the rectory before he moved in.
On the Bonnell Building Project’s website, the organization says the former St. Mary’s property will “provide a space for participants to live and learn together in a supportive learning community.” The buildings “will be home to a variety of projects growing out of participants’ passions, including but not limited to sustainability, art, music and social entrepreneurship.”