St. John Parish, 1228 Vermont Street

While other congregations have left the core of Lawrence over the years for greenfield campus developments on the outskirts of town, St. John the Evangelist Parish long ago decided to retain its historic footprint on the western edge of downtown. With a decision such as that comes problems that must be solved when church and school expansion are planned. As part of a $3.3 million project that will include a new gymnasium and conversion of the old gym into a visual and performing arts center, an old house at the corner of 12th and Kentucky that had once been the Convent for the Sisters of Charity was in the way.

Architect and parishioner Dan Sabatini and his wife Nicole saw the structure’s historic value and continued utility to the parish if a new location could be found. Sure enough, the building would fit nicely between the school on the Vermont street side and the parish center, which is also located in a well-kept older house. The plan was enthusiastically supported by parishioners, who cherish their long Lawrence history.

When the day of the big move came, the children of St. John School all came outside in early February to watch the Convent roll on a trailer to its new location just a block away. This is a preservation lesson those children will never forget, and St. John can attest that sometimes the greenest field is the one closest to home.