Cape Breton group searching for funds to save historic church
After the Stone Restoration Society in Sydney, N.S. won its bid to save a historic church, members are now shifting their focus to finding ways to pay it off.
The 99-year-old St. Alphonsus Church was sold for $40,000 - far more than the group anticipated spending.
“It is a pretty big price tag, but there's nothing else we can do,” said Melanie Sampson of the Stone Restoration Society. “That's the price they set forth. That's the price we are going to have to pay. We can't afford to let this building be demolished.”
The society fought for nearly two years to save the church from the wrecking ball.
Sampson says they were delighted to hear their hard work paid off.
“It was like a dream come true for us,” she said. “We really want to save it as a piece of our national heritage.”
The group is banking on fundraising and donations from the public to come up with the money.
Visitors to the area agree that the church is too valuable to lose.
“What was the alternative? Demolish it, and then it's gone forever,” said Allister MacKenzie, who was visiting from Ontario. “I find the history of Cape Breton, they tend to tear down older buildings, so this just shows that Cape Bretoners are passionate and will try to save them.”
The church was scheduled for demolition, but was put up for sale for nearly $50,000 in July. The society hopes to restore the building and open it as a tourist attraction.
“Our plans for the church are to fully restore it first, and for most we have to fix any necessary problems and stop any leakage. Then restore it and open it for tourism and a non-denominational wedding chapel,” said Sampson.
The group will have to make a $7,000 down payment as part of the deal. A second installment of nearly $13,000 will be required by January.
“It's been a lot of ups and downs, but it's been very appreciative to see all the support we've received and how many people do support us locally and abroad.,” said Sampson.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.