Committee shelves vote on demolition of St. John Cantius church

  • St. John Cantius Church. The O’Connell Development Group, has applied for a permit to demolish the building on Hawley Street and Phillips Place. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 2/23/2021 4:53:39 PM

NORTHAMPTON — It’s not yet clear whether the vacant St. John Cantius Church on Hawley Street will be demolished.

The Central Business Architecture Committee decided at its meeting Monday to not take a vote on a demolition review and revisit the matter at its April meeting, according to Carolyn Misch, the city’s assistant director of planning and sustainability who staffs the committee.

O’Connell Development Group, a Holyoke-based company, submitted an application in early February for work on the property that includes the demolition of the old church, which originally was formed for Polish-speaking Catholics.

The committee decided to wait to make a decision so that the developers could come back with more information, Misch said, adding that the committee needs to determine whether the historic building meets the criteria for demolition.

“There had been some comments at the hearing about whether or not specific avenues had been followed and so basically giving them an opportunity to come back and answer those questions,” Misch said of the committee’s decision to continue the discussion.

The church, which has been empty since 2010 and was sold last year, is in the city’s central business district, and by city code, demolitions need to be approved by the Central Business Architecture Committee.

Terry Masterson, who does not live in Northampton but was formerly the city’s economic development coordinator, attended the meeting. In a letter he wrote to the committee that he shared with the Gazette, he said that “a redeveloped St. John’s could create new housing for years of occupancy as well remain a living example of Northampton’s faith-based immigrant experience. This church can remain as a walkable asset for a downtown that benefits from attractions to spur commerce. Its elegant bell tower and front entrance would be a real loss if demolished. ”

A representative from the O’Connell Development Group could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Greta Jochem can be reached at

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