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LETTER: Did we have to lose this church?

Mark Clench spearheaded a campaign to save the Princeton Anglican Church building.
Mark Clench spearheaded a campaign to save the Princeton Anglican Church building. - Contributed

The exterior of the Princeton Anglican Church before the dismantling began.
The exterior of the Princeton Anglican Church before the dismantling began.

Dear Editor,

The Anglican Church in Princeton has now been demolished by the Central Diocese of the Anglican Church of Newfoundland.

The loss of this historic structure is tragic, certainly in the context that citizens of the region were not consulted on the matter.

As far as we are aware, the Diocese did not undertake any public consultation process, issue letters or place posters in the community or hold public meetings where meaningful re-use options could have been explored.

If so, then these were not done adequately enough, as the broader community was mostly unaware of the situation until demolition was well underway.

The Diocese also did not commission any architectural drawings to record the design details or carpentry techniques used in its construction, which took place over 120 years ago.

This step would have recorded the building for archival history purposes and such drawings could have been used for adaptive re-use options.

In response to the internal decision-making process which the Diocese endorses, concerned citizens and local residents have the following basic recommendations for Church officials.

1. Posters should be placed in communities to advise citizens of the intent of the Church to dispose of their buildings or properties. These posters should provide a contact name and number so that groups or individuals having interest in or concerns about these buildings or properties can contact the Diocese directly.

2. The Diocese should issue calls for public expressions of interest so that options and proposals for the sale or adaptive re-use of these heritage properties are given full consideration by the Diocese, the general public and potential re-developers. Priority should be given to interested community groups, in keeping with the intended purpose of these structures as communal gathering places.

3. The Diocese should have architectural drawings and photos completed prior to any disposal decisions. This step would ensure that an archival history of the building is available for the community in which it belongs, for re-use purposes and for its heritage value to future generations.

The Concerned Citizens are upset and disheartened that this historic Church property has now been demolished, and that Diocese officials allowed this to happen in the absence of any meaningful public discussion.

Such a dialogue would have allowed area residents and heritage conservation groups to explore appropriate, sustainable options for the adaptive re-use of this valuable and iconic religious heritage structure, and would have benefited the Diocese, the local community, Bonavista Peninsula residents and the regional economy.

Mark Clench


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