Convent Demolition Draws Onlookers, Strong Emotions

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AVOCA -- A building filled with history is coming down, the price of progress in Luzerne County.

History, clawed by an excavator, came crashing to the ground in Avoca. The old St. Mary's convent is coming down.

"In the convent I took piano lessons," said Anne Dillon. "The sisters were absolutely wonderful, great teachers.  It was sad to see it go."

But go it must.  The parish priest at Queen of the Apostles explains the building has been empty for more than eight years.  There is no use for it, and even if there was, renovations would be too expensive.

That's why the demolition is happening.  The memories are why the demolition draws a crowd.

"I live in the neighborhood," said Nancy Adomiak of Avoca. "I really have fond memories of running up there, seeing the nuns, going to school, a lot of good friends."

The former St. Mary's convent opened in 1923.  After the nuns left several years ago, the building was used for a library, computer lab, and chapel for St. Mary's school right next door.

Carol Trzcinski was like many of her neighbors – on hand to watch, and remember.

"I just sent my daughter a picture.  Her reply was 'thanks for the memories, convent.'"

The parish priest says St. Mary's and Ss .Peter and Paul Churches merged, and they need the space for parking.

While the old convent is coming down, the church says the old St. Mary's school, just adjacent, will remain.  They still have use for that building. It houses religious education classes, office space, and a place for meetings.

The demolition of the old St. Mary's convent should be finished in a few days.