Potential buyer interested in turning St. Patrick’s into condos

Potential buyer interested in turning St. Patrick’s into condos

The now-vacant St. Patrick Church on Broad Street in Valley Falls is being eyed by a potential developer as condominiums.

CUMBERLAND – The would-be buyer of the former St. Patrick’s Church is planning to preserve the church structure and construct new condos within it, say sellers of the church at 301 Broad St.

The Rev. Msgr. Jacques Plante, of the combined St. Aidan-St. Patrick Church on Diamond Hill Road in Cumberland, said the church remains in contact with an interested buyer that is now running a ground study and doing its due diligence over six months.

That buyer, an organization planning to “preserve the building as much as they can,” has been extended a right of first refusal, he said.

Condo units would be installed within the church building and in the rectory itself, he said. The garages on the property would likely be demolished.

The condo units would not be subsidized, said Plante, but “they would be more affordable for working-class people” than what the current market is offering.

“I’m positive on it, I really am,” he said.

Plante had told The Breeze back in 2018 that there were no plans to maintain the Valley Falls church structure, as the property would be sold for secular use and likely redeveloped. There is no stipulation that the church building be left standing in any sale. The 2-acre property has been listed for $1.5 million.

Residents in the area of St. Patrick’s, which was closed due to extensive repairs needed and diminishing attendance, have long stood against losing another piece of local history, saying they would rather see the building preserved.

St. Patrick’s, first established in 1861, has an interesting history behind it, said Plante, as the one-time pastor of St. Mary’s in Pawtucket “wrote to the leading gentlemen of Valley Falls asking them to start organizing and preparing for a new church” in that community. The church received a letter back from those men stating that they didn’t want to leave St. Mary’s and didn’t think the area could support another church, he said, and the pastor then sat down with them to be a little more forceful about it, telling them that with the people working in the mills walking to church, while they took a carriage ride to Mass, then establishing a new parish was not asking too much.

Prior to the establishment of St. Patrick’s, the people of Ashton were forced to travel to St. Mary’s in Pawtucket. As St. Patrick’s grew rapidly, the Rev. Hugh O’Reilly, pastor of St. Patrick’s, established St. Joseph’s Church on Mendon Road as a mission church.

Staffers have worked with King Richard’s Liturgical Design and Contracting to remove items such as pews, altars and woodwork to use it in other churches, said Plante. They are working now with New England Stained Glass, which restored the windows at St. Patrick’s in the 1970s and created the stained glass at St. Aidan’s, to remove stained glass religious images and store them.

“We would like to preserve as many as we can,” he said, to create lightboxes to be incorporated into a renovated hall at St. Aidan’s that is eventually dedicated as St. Patrick’s Memorial Hall. Stations of the cross paintings have also been moved from St. Patrick’s to St. Aidan’s.

“The symbolism of these paintings is very striking,” said Plante.