100-YEAR OLD ST. ANTHONY'S SCHOOL TO BE DEMOLISHED


Built in 1922, many children, teachers, parents, and community members have walked the halls of St. Anthony's School in Park Falls, leaving their mark on the school and taking the memories with them.

   
Photo by:  Jerry Weber

However, 100 years later, the school faces demolition.

Father Shaji admits this was a difficult decision.  "The parish and finance council looked at three different possibilities for the school building - reopen, sell, or raze."

To determine if reopening was feasible, in December 2021, families were sent a survey.  115 families replied with 43 wanting the school to reopen, 55 not wanting it to reopen, and 17 were undecided.  If a plan could be made to reopen the school, various people stated they would donate over a million dollars to the project.  However, an additional two million dollars were needed for a fund to be able to keep the school running well rather than being back in the same financial position within two years.  Along with the lack of funding, the limited number of children that would be attending the school did not allow for a viable plan.

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The cost of maintaining the building is also high, costing $40,000 to $45,000 per year for water, sewer, electricity, gas, insurance, and emergency repairs.  Major repairs were not even considered in the annual cost of maintenance.  Major repairs include the roof, a heating system, and the walls (which are structurally okay but need work due to water damage), just to name a few.

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As for selling, a number of people showed interest in buying the building to use as apartments, a community center, YMCA, and other uses.  One company offered a purchase agreement of $150,000 or provide residence for the priest in order to purchase the school and the rectory to create apartments.  However, this would mean the St. Anthony of Padua parish would be left with a church building and a parking lot.  Looking to the future, there would not be land space left for any future plans.

Razing the building has a high cost.  The lowest cost proposal was for $300,000.  The parish will need to take out a loan to complete the demolition.  However, this is the recommendation that was made by the parish and finance council.  Father Shaji sent the recommendation to the Bishop, and St. Anthony Corporate Board approved it.  This is a final decision, and as soon as the asbestos abatement company gives the date they will be removing the asbestos, the demolition company will be ready.  Demolition will take about two months.  "It was not an easy decision, but we pray and trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit that we made the best decision in a given situation," Father Shaji stated.  He would appreciate any donations or offers of a loan from anyone willing to help.

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Father Shaji added that, since the school closed in 2017, the parishioners were informed of the options for its future.  People had an opportunity to come up with a plan, but a feasible plan could not be found.  The decision was not made lightly.  He stated the future is bright given they will still have the land for future projects.  For example, they may choose to build a new school at some point in the future or they may do something else favorable with the land.  They have plenty of ideas but no solid plans yet.

   
Photo by:  Jerry Weber

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(This post was last modified: 08-26-2022, 01:26 AM by My Northern Wisconsin.)