Archdiocese Putting Lowell Rectory up for Sale

By Christopher Scott
Sun [Lowell MA]
April 25, 2003

Friday, April 25, 2003 - LOWELL St. Peter's Rectory, the stately Gorham Street building that was left standing during the controversial demolition of St. Peter's Church in 1996, is up for sale by its owner, the cash-strapped Archdiocese of Boston.

The archdiocese isn't talking. But a staffer to Regional Bishop Emilio S. Allue, who resides there, told John McDonough, who owns and operates a nearby funeral home, that the rectory staff has been told to get ready to move out.

"The person I spoke to doesn't know when or where they will be moving to," said McDonough, 50, who attended St. Peter's his entire life. "But this person knows it's going to happen."

The Sun has learned Allue and his staff will relocate to a local rectory by the end of June. Marketing efforts on the property are expected to begin soon.

The archdiocese has been strapped for cash since the clergy sex-abuse scandal erupted last year and sent donations plummeting.

In the April 11 edition of the archdiocese newspaper, The Pilot, Bishop Richard Lennon is quoted as saying the archdiocese faces a deficit of nearly $5 million.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Morrissey was recently quoted in a Boston newspaper that two of the four regional bishops will be relocated.

The Archdiocese of Boston is divided into five regions. Besides the Merrimack Valley territory, which stretches from Ashby in the west to the Atlantic Ocean, there's the central district, which is Boston proper; north, which is Cape Ann and the North Shore; south; and west.

But only the Merrimack Valley and north district have separate residences for regional, or auxiliary, bishops.

In the same April 11 edition of The Pilot, Lennon is also quoted as saying the archdiocese is considering office consolidation as a cost-savings measure.

Not long after St. Peter's literally began falling apart, with pieces of its facade falling onto Gorham Street, the church was demolished in 1996. The move spurred a storm of protest by parishioners.

Being structurally sound, however, the three-story rectory was preserved and even underwent a modest renovation, McDonough said. Allue's predecessor, the late Regional Bishop John R. McNamara, did some of the renovations at his own expense, McDonough said.

The building was constructed in 1890-91, a year before the cornerstone was laid for the adjacent stone church. The rectory is within the boundaries of the South Common Historic District, which means any exterior renovations would have to pass review by the Lowell Historic Board.

McDonough said the building would be a great addition to either Lowell Superior Court or the North Middlesex Registry of Deeds, located directly across Gorham Street.

Richard Howe Jr., North Middlesex register of deeds, agrees the building "could be useful." But with the state experiencing a severe budget crunch, today is hardly the time to consider acquiring property, Howe said.

William Taupier, a local real-estate consultant, said the building would be the "most ideal legal address in the city," noting its proximity to the court.


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