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St. Anne stained glass to be sold off

St. Anne stained glass to be sold off

By Shawn Boburg

LAWRENCE – Even before yesterday, the interior of the century-old St. Anne Church didn’t see much light, only sprinkles of color from the 12 stained glass windows that ran high along its curved apse.

One by one, those last radiant panes were removed yesterday and replaced with planks of plywood – both a final affirmation of the church’s demise and the surest sign of its rebirth.

The one-thriving St. Anne Parish, boarded up and padlocked since 1995, has been sold by the Archdiocese of Boston to a company interested in turning it into a performing arts center, said the Rev. James J. Ronan, pastor of Holy Rosary Church and vicar of the Lawrence churches. Two other nearby buildings that also comprised St. Anne parish were part of the deal approved months ago, he said.

But first, the archdiocese is removing the valuable stained-glass windows and selling them.

“They will be sold, but we make sure they are sold for an appropriate use,” said Rev. Christopher Coyne, spokesman for the Boston Archdiocese. He did not know how much the windows would fetch or to whom they would be sold. Coyne also did not know details of the church’s sale, although he said he was aware of it. He said the person handling the project for the archdiocese was on vacation and that no one else at the archdiocese could provide specifics.

Ronan did not know details of the deal either, including the name of the company buying the property or when the renovation would begin. But he said: “There have been many people who wanted to get a piece of this property, but the archdiocese wanted to choose a project that would satisfy a need in the community.”

He said the deal to sell the property was approved by the Archdiocese of Boston “a few months ago.”

The main church, now surrounded by weeds and colored by graffiti, will be the performing arts center and two other buildings near the church will also be renovated – one becoming classrooms and the other a mix of business and housing, Ronan said.

The church was built in 1906, its congregation composed of French-Canadian immigrants. It closed in 1991, when the Marist order decided it could no longer staff the parish with priests due to dwindling revenues. The church was temporarily used between 1991 and 1995 as a place of worship for Lawrence’s burgeoning Spanish-speaking population and the Spanish-speaking congregation moved to St. Mary’s Immaculate Conception.