Preservation Society tried to save St. Mark’s

To the editor:
Shortly after St. Mark’s was put on the market, the Warren Preservation Society (WPS) developed a plan to advocate for a preservation-minded buyer. We worked with the Diocese directly (Ty Creason) and through the realtor, Leslie Hogan, to make funds available to advertise the property in national and regional publications, as well as taking action to secure parts of the archive that had not found a home.
We began a dialogue with Leslie Hogan and she agreed to work with us – we had an understanding to be made aware of potential buyers for the property or the sale of objects from St. Mark’s. The sale of integral parts of the building was a major concern after loss of the church bell, which was sold without any notice by the Diocese to the community. It was made abundantly clear to Leslie and the Diocese that the church was of great importance and we were committed to ensuring its well-being.
Among other things, WPS:
– Catalogued, archived and preserved the church records through a professional archivist.
– Paid for and coordinated an advertising campaign listing St. Mark’s in multiple national and regional real estate publications specializing in historically important buildings.
– Paid for the interior and exterior of the building to be professionally photographed to their best advantage.
– Researched and complied a full color two page pamphlet on St. Mark’s designed to assist the realtor in her efforts to find a buyer.
– Collaborated with the late Lombard Pozzi, a lifetime member of Warren Preservation Society, to incorporate St. Mark’s into his architectural tour of Russell Warren buildings in Bristol & Warren.
– Created an endangered properties section of our website, preservewarren.org, which served as an online portal to all the information regarding the church and the real estate listing.
– In the last two weeks, prior to knowledge of this deal, WPS approved funds to make a directed donation to the Diocese to stabilize the columns. We took action by approving funds and collecting estimates to arrest further deterioration.
The membership and the Board of Warren Preservation Society have worked tirelessly to try to find a buyer. We put our money where our mouth was. Had WPS understood that an offer of $150,000 was acceptable, which is $130,000 lower than any price listed at any point, we would have had an easier time finding a buyer.
We heard from several potential buyers who expressed concern about making a large investment in a community without historic zoning or other protections — and as our current situation makes clear, this is a justifiable concern.
Eileen Collins
State Street
Ms. Collins is president of the Warren Preservation Society.

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