Wed September 4, 2013
Stevens Point Strives To Save Historic Convent
The city of Stevens Point is trying to save an historic convent from the wrecking ball, despite a request from a local Catholic parish to demolish it.
The request by St. Stephen Parish to tear down the convent was denied by the Stevens Point Common Council, which has authority because the building lies within the city's Historic District. Mayor Andrew Halverson says the council wants to keep the parish intact because of Stevens Point’s strong Catholic heritage. The convent is also the city’s “last intact full Catholic parish.”
“The standard Catholic parish design was one where you had a convent, a church, a school and a rectory all in one spot for a holistic approach to Catholic teaching and also worship,” says Halverson.
The convent was originally built in 1954 as a home for nuns, but has since fallen into disrepair. Halverson says he's sympathetic to concerns voiced by parish leaders, who say it’s expensive to keep the convent up.
“If we aren't going to say you can tear it down, then we have to work with them to find alternatives to get that financial albatross off their shoulders,” says Halverson.
Halverson says he wants to schedule a meeting with parish leaders to see if other uses can be found for the convent. The Portage County Historical Society at one time considered buying the old building for $1 in order to preserve it. St. Stephen Parish leaders say in a written statement that they are waiting for additional input from the city.