In the Neighborhood: Plans to Demolish St. Francis Seminary Get a Pushback

Again there is activity along River Road in Andover! What will happen to the massive St. Francis Seminary on River Road? Many have fond memories of the Christmas light display created by the seminarians. Just down the street from my home on Fiske Street, the building and property has been a part of the neighborhood since 1930 with the addition of the Christian Formation Center in the 1960s. The Center that hosted many religious events, retreats, parish shows, wedding receptions and even a Kennedy political event, now houses the Melmark School. No longer active the seminary has been purchased and it’s on the block for demolition! It would make room for residences for those over 62 to be known as  Andover Woods and for Melmark  for parking and possibly group home sites. The developers claim that no adaptive reuse of the seminary building is possible  and they hope to bring it down after the Preservation Commission demolition hold expires in September. There is some push-back from those who appreciate the history of the Classical Revival-style structure built to train and educate young Catholic men. It was built to last. Those who know the area will remember the Poor Clare Monastery built by Cardinal Cushing across the street where the  Avalon Andover luxury residential building sits – built after much kerfuffle and finally an agreement to build a smaller monastery for the nuns across the street. With River Road rebuilt the area is now the site of many new single family homes and, of course, regular heavy traffic. Andover seems happy to have these complexes on its boundaries so I expect the building to come down and the development to commence. The Eagle-Tribune has an article about the controversy today and will cover this as it did when Merrimack College proposed to use the site for a dorm. More here:

From our blog archive, my March, 2012 post on the dorm proposal and some St. Francis Seminary history…

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