The brick home of Mrs. Anna Fleming, on the corner of Park Avenue East and South Gosse Boulevard, was purchased in April of 1964 by St. Louis Catholic Parish to become a convent for the teaching Sisters of Mary of the Presentation.
In 2005, the convent building was converted into a preschool, and for 12 years, housed preschool-aged students in their beginning steps of their Catholic school education.
St. Louis Catholic School, which was established in 1964, closed its doors in Aug. 2017. With no longer a need and in deteriorating condition, the decision was made to tear down the accompanying preschool building. An excavator was brought in Thursday, Dec. 3, to bring the walls down.
In a letter posted on its Facebook page, Rev. Tim Hepner, St. Louis administrator, said the decision to demolish the preschool was not an easy one. He said Fr. Daniel Gifford consulted the parish groups (finance committee, buildings and grounds and parish council) and many options were explored.
"Even though the exterior was beautiful, the interior was not fit for anyone to live or work in, and it would have required a lot of time and money to restore," Hepner said. "Ultimately, we're blessed with the right amount of space at St. Louis and we didn't need this space. Unfortunately you can't really move a brick house, therefore we couldn't sell it. So prudence led to this decision."
Hepner said he knows this makes many people sad and that sadness is appropriate.
"There were many faithful sisters who lived there and served St. Louis Parish. And many young children encountered Christ as they began at St. Louis School. So it is okay to mourn," he said.
"But with the hope Christ gives us, it is also good to look forward to the amazing things that God will do in this parish as we adapt and continue to proclaim the gospel to Bureau County."
For now the space will be seeded with grass, which Hepner said "will grow in the spring as a sign of new life — the new life that the Father is always pouring into our parish. People will have a new view of our beautiful Church, as a sign of the ever-present invitation to become part of the community that Jesus founded."
Hepner said the church is always open to the ideas and desires of parishioners with regards to what should take the place of the grade school — green space, more parking and/or perhaps a sign welcoming people to the parish.
That St. Louis building was used for preschool before the school was closed in the Fall of 2017.