The future of a former school on Saint John’s west side is up in the air.
St. Patrick’s School on City Line is for sale, and some neighbours fear it will become the latest longstanding facility to disappear from Saint John’s landscape.
Classes ended at the school in 2014 due to structural safety issues. Anglophone School District South said 168 students were placed in nearby schools until all became part of the catchment area for the new Seaside Park Elementary School.
The old St. Patrick’s building was sold by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint John to private developers in 2016. Those owners started some interior renovations, but have put the school back on the market.
Royal LePage realtor Chris Gallant, who represents the owners, said he believes the facility’s school days – private or otherwise – are over. But he said he is getting considerable interest in the property.
“I believe, with the right vision, it can be turned into a good multi-use facility,” Gallant said. “The challenge is it does take money to turn a property into something usable and good for this neighbourhood.”
The original building was built in 1924. The school became a landmark in the neighbourhood. It sits within sight of another aging structure, the former St. Jude’s Anglican Church, which itself is being gutted and turned into a family home and income property.
Gallant said the school has no historical designation, meaning any new owners could do anything from continuing to renovate the interior to tearing the whole thing down and starting new.
That uncertainty is concerning to Michael Volik, who lives across the street from the school. He said he would like to see the building saved because he said too many others in Saint John are being torn down.
“It’s kind of criminal,” Volik started. “It’s our heritage. They’re not built like that anymore. It’s just simple, (made) from wood. Done. (The new) building is ugly. But this one, it’s a beautiful building.”
“Any opportunity we can take to blend the history of a building to help re-gentrify an area around here does wonders for the city,” Gallant said. “And I think the right buyer will probably decide to do that.”