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Wednesday, August 29,2012

Convent down

A Church of the Resurrection building on the East Side comes down as a cost-cutting move for the Catholic Diocese of Lansing

by Andy Balaskovitz

There will be no resurrecting a convent that stood for over 50 years on the campus of a historic church on the East Side.

An official with the Catholic Diocese of Lansing confirmed Monday that the old convent, which was one of six buildings at the Church of the Resurrection in the Eastfield Neighborhood, was demolished because it was rarely used and too expensive to maintain.

It met the same fate as a westside diocesan property last fall for the same reason. A portion of the Holy Cross church and school complex was torn down to the dismay of some neighbors and city officials.  “It was just an expense that was too much for the parish to bear,” said Diocese spokesman Michael Diebold. The St. Andrew Dung Lac Vietnamese parish is using a portion of the Holy Cross complex. 

While a few local groups used the otherwise vacant Resurrection building once a month, “the rest of the building through the years of disuse had fallen into terrible disrepair,” Diebold said. He added that it cost the church $30,000 a year in utilities and maintenance. “It was nothing the parish was going to rehab into anything else. … It was a total drain on parish finances, a terrible expense for the parish to have to bear for no good reason.”

Diebold said beyond planting grass, no plans are in place for reusing the land where the 3 1/2-story building stood. The campus sits on 3.24 acres along East Michigan Avenue, bounded by Custer and Rumsey avenues and Jerome Street. The former convent was on the north side of the property facing Jerome. The church is the only building on the property designated as a state historic site.

Diebold said sisters of the parish hadn’t lived in the convent for at least 25 years. He said there was little historical significance seen in the building, as it was built “well after” the main church: “It didn’t have any particularly striking architectural features.”

A “Silver Jubilee Booklet” from 1947 provided by the Capital Area District Library says that the first Resurrection Mass was held in 1922 at the site. Classrooms and additions to the church came later in the ‘20s; a high school was built in 1939 for $75,000. Architectural plans were underway for the building that came down on Friday when the booklet was published in 1947. Cost estimates for the convent at the time were for $200,000.

Wayne Wood has lived across Jerome Street from the Resurrection complex for 60 years and has been a member ever since. He remembers when a group of Dominican Sisters lived in the convent. “We miss them more than we miss the building,” he said on Monday night.

Aside from the dust that was kicked up Friday from the demolition, he’s not too upset. “It was kinda sad to see the building deteriorate in that fashion. But when it’s cleaned up, no, I won’t miss it.”

 

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