A preservation group that was working to save the Sainte-Marie church at Church Point, Newfoundland, has declared that all options have been explored. The largest wooden church in North America may be demolished after a Clare, Nova Scotia fundraising committee formed to try to save it gave up.
The 117-year-old church, which has received national and provincial heritage designations, is the largest wooden church in North America.
The original $3 million repair cost grew to $10 million in the nine years the committee was in operation owing to inflation and increasing deterioration of the structure, according to Pierre Comeau, president of the preservation committee, who spoke to Global News on Wednesday.
It was unable to raise the money before the deadline set by the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth.
“Even though the church was not in use, they still had some ongoing expenses, they had to have it insured, it has a certain amount of heating in it still and electricity. So they didn’t want those ongoing expenses to the diocese to be there forever,” Comeau said.
He said that the archdiocese had agreed to give the preservation committee ownership of the church if the fundraising effort had been successful.
“We didn’t have the expertise to develop a national fundraising strategy,” he said.
The deadline to raise the funds was recently extended by the archdiocese until September 30.
The Clare Acadian community is a rural one, and the church is significant culturally.
“The church was built over a hundred years ago, using plans that came over from France and the foreman who built it was a local man who could neither read nor write, so he had the parish priest interpret the plans,” Comeau said.
“We consider it a monument to the tenacity and versatility of our ancestors who actually built this church.”
The Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth stated “the reality of the situation for all involved.” in a news release on Tuesday that while it is sorry for how this would affect a piece of Acadian history in the area, it also acknowledges it .
Additionally, it stated that it will be collaborating with the Notre-Dame-d’Acadie parish administration, of which the church is a member, to decide the next course of action.