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Randolph convent to be demolished

By Diane Smith | Staff Writer Published: December 9, 2012 4:00 AM

An old convent on the grounds of St. Joseph Church in Randolph is slated to be demolished Monday to make way for a youth center.

The demolition will begin at about 7 a.m., said the Rev. Thomas Acker, administrator of the parish. In its place, the parish hopes to build a youth center to serve the parish, St. Joseph School and the community.

"In all churches, the youth are disappearing," Acker said. "We've got to keep them around."

The convent was built in 1922 and 1923 for $7,500 to house the Sisters of Notre Dame of Cleveland, who taught at the school.

At the time, he said, the convent was hailed at the time as a "model of modernity," boasting 10 rooms with steam heat and indoor plumbing, including hot and cold running water. But today, he said, it's not practical or cost-effective to renovate the structure because it's not ADA compliant.

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The nuns left the school in 2000 and lay teachers have staffed the school since.

In the past 12 years, the parish has used the building for storage, Acker said.

He said demolition of the brick house has been under discussion for a decade, and when he first came to the Parish three months ago, he was told the demolition would cost $25,000. The demolition, he said, will cost less than $6,000, largely because of the contributions of the DiGeronimo family.

He said Frank Kordinak, who works for the DiGeronimo company and has two children enrolled in the school, recommended the firm because of its expertise in demolition. On Thursday and Friday, the firm's arm that specializes in asbestos removal removed the hazardous material from the convent, and Independence Demolition, another arm of the DiGeronimo companies, brought in the equipment for the demolition.

The house is expected to be a pile of rubble by noon, though it will take another day and a half to clear and grade the land.

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A number of other parishioners helped oversee preparatory work, move festival material and water lines and supplied construction equipment. Even students of the school helped cart away school materials from the convent, he said.

He said the 10,000-square-foot youth center will cost about $1 million to build, and Acker also hopes to endow it for $500,000. The parish is in the process of raising the $1.5 million.

Acker said the large space will house basketball courts and the multi-purpose area can be divided to host dinners and other special events. It will be used for after-school events, and since a door of the youth center would face the school, it also would house gym classes for the school.

He said athletics are one way to provide activities for children, saying they need a place to play and make noise.

"You want a safe atmosphere for them," he said.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1139 or dsmith@recordpub.com

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anonymous Dec 10, 2012 8:38 AM

Very excited about the changes at St. Joseph. Sorry to see the building and its memories torn down but Fr. Acker said it best "...they need a place to play and make noise and you want a safe atmosphere for them". The children of our community are our future....let's help them get there. Good job!

anonymous Dec 9, 2012 6:52 PM

Hate to see old buildings go, but at least it is not being demolished for parking like Ravenna is doing to most of itself... Good job St Joseph!!