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A new chapter set to begin in life of former St. Joseph School in Burlington

The next chapter in the life of the former St. Joseph School is unfolding.
 
Champlain Housing Trust -- a non-profit organization that creates and preserves affordable housing -- plans to purchase the Allen Street building for $2 million and ensure its continued use for community programs.
 
The building was once a parochial school attached to St. Joseph Parish.
 
“In the six years that have elapsed since 2010 [when the school closed], the expenses have continued to climb, trying to maintain the old building in good condition, so the decision to offer it up for sale to the Champlain Housing Trust proved mutually agreeable and beneficial to both parties,” said Father Lance Harlow, rector of St. Joseph Co-Cathedral and Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception parishes. “The building will continue to serve families in the North End of the city which has always been its purpose.”
 
Since the school closed, the building has been used for various activities such as a children’s center, an association of Africans, a parent-child center, indoor events and a theater.
 
The parish has used the building for religious education classes and various church functions.
 
There was Catholic education in St. Joseph Parish even before the construction of the school. In 1863, the Daughters of the Heart of Mary (also known as the Ladies of Nazareth) arrived in Burlington and taught students in a woodshed until 1864 when they opened their school and convent on Gough Street, near North Prospect and Archibald Street.
 
In 1869, the sisters built another school, the first Nazareth School on Allen Street, for the younger children. They ran both schools until they merged in 1924 on Allen Street.
 
“The current building was enlarged in 1929 and was called the Ecole Nazareth, presumably in honor of the Ladies of Nazareth,” Father Harlow explained. “In 1961, the name was changed to St. Joseph School simply for administrative purposes.”
 
St. Joseph School operated under the supervision of the Ladies of Nazareth until 1943 then under the charge of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit until 1983.
 
“Decreasing enrollment over the course of several decades, decreased numbers of religious teaching sisters, higher salaries for lay employees and difficulties meeting expenses finally resulted in the closing of the school in 2010,” he continued.
 
 
While the building no longer functioned as a school since its closing, classroom space was leased to various non-profits.
 
“The parish is greatly indebted to the valiant religious sisters, brothers, priests and laity who devoted their lives to the education of the children in downtown Burlington,” Father Harlow said. “And while buildings come and go throughout the course of human history, the heroism of those who made history in those buildings remains to be told from one generation to the next.”
 
The Champlain Housing Trust is leasing the building until June at which point it must pay in full. “The impending sale of the school has brought financial relief for the co-cathedral and will enable it to direct its resources to other projects,” Father Harlow said.
 
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