Church Renovation Planning Continues

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Plans for the reconstruction of the former Saint Joseph church buildings on South Main Street to become apartments are continuing, but the only visible step has been the removal of the two statues that formerly graced the property. The two adjacent parcels with the sanctuary, rectory and convent are still owned by the church, and plans have been made to relocate the beloved stone figures. They were removed and taken to Rogers Memorials in Enfield for cleaning and restoration.

Photo by Lester Smith
A member of the Rogers Memorials work crew removes the suspension rigging after the plinth for St. Joseph’s statue was lowered into his truck’s bed next to the statue. Both of the statues of St. Joseph’s church – Joseph’s and Mary’s – are to be relocated elsewhere in Suffield: Joseph at the St. Joseph Cemetery, Mary on the grounds of Sacred Heart Church.

Following that, the statue of Saint Joseph holding the Baby Jesus, which stood in a little flowered spot on the sidewalk leading to the sanctuary, will be installed in a landscaped setting in Saint Joseph Cemetery on Hill Street. The statue of the Virgin Mary that stood on a similar spot in the parking lot will be given a location on the grounds of Sacred Heart Church on Mountain Road. Plans are being considered for a possible new garden there.

Planning for the Saint Joseph church reconstruction continues. Developer James McMahon has worked with the Historic District Commission in several meetings, with various results, including changes to the tall narrow windows of the sanctuary whose stained glass windows have already been removed. Agreement in principal has been reached regarding an opaque panel of some sort in those windows at the new floor level of the second floor apartments. Details must be defined and approved. Proposed cellar windows for the apartments in the lower level must be reconfigured to provide emergency egress unless that feature can be provided elsewise. Many other details remain unsettled.

Planning and Zoning’s scheduled public hearing for this project, scheduled for November 21, was too late to be reported in this issue of the Observer. A local resident has researched the record of developer McMahon and found that a number of Connecticut towns have had serious problems with his proposals, many resulting in court action. The researcher has discussed his findings with the Suffield planning officer, Bill Hawkins, and has recommended that they be taken into consideration in determining the amount of the performance bond for this project. A large number of interested citizens is expected to attend the November 21 hearing, and it seems likely that it will not be concluded that night, and PZC’s consideration will be tabled for a subsequent meeting.

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