Former St. Mary's Church in downtown Northampton now for sale

By MICHAEL MAJCHROWICZ

@mjmajchrowicz

Published: 02-06-2017 5:30 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The former St. Mary’s of the Assumption Church and the nearby properties, including the neighboring rectory and parking lot, are officially on the market.

While the Springfield Diocese confirmed Friday that it is seeking buyers for the iconic property, the organization so far has been mum on details. Mark Dupont, a spokesman for the diocese, said the group limits comments with regard to real estate offerings. He declined to disclose an asking price or details about who may be interested in taking over the property. The church is listed with Colebrook Realty.

The diocese, in 2010, closed several churches and consolidated five Northampton parishes into one. As a result, St. Mary’s closed its doors, as did St. John Cantius on Hawley Street. Meanwhile, three other churches in the Northampton parish remain active: Chapel of Our Lady of the Annunciation in Florence, and the former Sacred Heart Church at 99 King St., now known as St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, and Blessed Sacrament Church, 354 Elm Street.

The Rev. Francis Reilly had confirmed to the Gazette in December that the properties would go up for sale. Reilly could not be reached for comment Friday evening.

“We’re always interested in finding folks who have purposeful use (for) the building, and that's always our primary goal,” Dupont said. “While the diocese oversees these sales of the properties, the assets of the sale eventually go to the host parish.”

When it was announced St. Mary’s would close its doors, a group of community members and parishioners — who formed the Committee to Preserve St. Mary of the Assumption Church, Inc. —  went as far as to appeal to the Vatican to overturn the decision. The effort was not successful, and the Vatican upheld its decision in May 2015.

Among those leading the charge and advocating for the preservation of the downtown landmark is Thomas McGee, 81, of Hadley. 

“Citizens of Northampton need to speak up and resist the destruction of this historic, iconic structure,” he said. “It’s a historic treasure.”

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Now, McGee said he filed a letter of complaint on Friday with the Vatican and that he intends to appeal the decision to close the church all the way to Pope Francis if necessary.

Note: This story has been revised to reflect that there are three churches that remain active. The story previously reported there were only two.

Michael Majchrowicz can be reached at mmajchrowicz@gazettenet.com.

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