2018-06-21 / Neighbors

Moving in: Notre Dame residences ready for renters

By Abigail Worthing
Staff Writer

SACO– Eight years after closing its doors, the Notre Dame de Lourdes Church on Cutts Ave., once a spiritual home for many, will reopen as a new kind of home within the community, a 19-unit apartment building. It is the first part of a threebuilding project, the second of which will be to the left of the church. While the foundation has been laid for a 47- unit second building, the groundbreaking on the third, planned to be geared toward seniors, will be contingent on the occupancy of the first two.

The church, built in 1929, closed its doors in 2010 as part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland’s plan to consolidate churches in Good Shepard Parish due to dwindling numbers. The sale of the church for $285,000 was finalized in September 2017, and since then the church has undergone renovations that also preserve history.

“We wanted to stay true to the building,” said Deirdre Wadsworth, president of Hardypond Construction, developer for the project. “You really need a special type of building for a project like this.”


Above, Notre Dame des Lourdes Church on Cutts Ave has been renovated into a 19-unit apartment building, with Hardypond Construction working to preserve the integrity of the 90 year-old building. Far left, during renovations, ceiling tiles were removed to reveal this painted panel. Left, features of the complex include original stained glass from the church. (Abigail Worthing photo) Above, Notre Dame des Lourdes Church on Cutts Ave has been renovated into a 19-unit apartment building, with Hardypond Construction working to preserve the integrity of the 90 year-old building. Far left, during renovations, ceiling tiles were removed to reveal this painted panel. Left, features of the complex include original stained glass from the church. (Abigail Worthing photo) Part of the $2.2 million construction process included removing removing vinyl siding to reveal slats underneath. From the outside, the church has been restored to what Wadsworth referred to as “the historical colors” of the past, a pale cream with light blue trim, keeping the integrity of the building while renovating the inside. The apartments include touches of history from the church, with panels of stained glass and woodwork from the original building restored and incorporated into the structure. Each apartment is different, with the team getting creative to split up the space to accommodate as many units as possible. With a mix of layouts, some apartments have two floors, or a lofted area, while others are one level. The building has preserved the original buttresses, so many of the apartments have incorporated the wooden beams into the design. An apartment on the top floor kept the curve of the roof and used buttresses to create a lofted space with a spiral staircase.

“These apartments aren’t for everyone,” Wadsworth said. “You have to get creative with your space.”

The company went to great lengths to preserve the original fixtures wherever possible, specifically ensuring that the majority of the stained glass was salvaged and reused. Some of the apartments at the front have views through the large medallion stained glass window, while others have stained glass panels inlaid in the partition walls between living space and bedroom. There are pews in the hallways, and one apartment has a chalkboard from a Sunday school classroom in its hallway.


Historical aspects of the former church, including original buttresses, were kept as aesthetic touches wherever possible. Some tenants were allowed to move in this week, while other apartments are still being completed. (Abigail Worthing photo) Historical aspects of the former church, including original buttresses, were kept as aesthetic touches wherever possible. Some tenants were allowed to move in this week, while other apartments are still being completed. (Abigail Worthing photo) “We tried to preserve the history wherever possible,” said Wadsworth, gesturing to a portion of the ceiling where old paneling has been removed to reveal a design painted into the wood. “It was just too beautiful to paint over.”

The first five tenants are scheduled to move into the building on June 22, while the other 14 units will be completed soon. The remaining apartments are listed through Sullivan Management and range between $1,100 and $1,400 a month based on square footage and number of bedrooms. Parking will be available on a one car per unit basis at an adjacent lot.

The church has been a Saco landmark for 90 years, and these apartments allow the structure to remain for those who grew up worshipping there.

“We’ve opened our doors to former parishioners so they can see what we’ve done,” Wadsworth said. “We’ve had very positive feedback.”

Contact Staff Writer Abigail Worthing at news@inthecourier.com.

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