From Place of Worship to Place of Pet Care

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WEST HAZLETON -- A church in Luzerne County that has been closed for years has been sold, and the new owner is planning a whole new use.

St. Francis of Assisi Church has been sitting vacant on North Broad Street in West Hazleton for years, but soon it will be put to use again. A nearby veterinarian will move his practice into the church, making it a place where thousands of animals in the area can go to be cared for.

"I know some they just tear down, like where I use to live in Wilkes-Barre. There was a big church on top of the hill and they just tore it down," said Michael Suchowieski.

Dr. Kenneth Trippett bought the church for just over $250,000. He took us inside to show us exactly how he plans to transform it.

"About here is going to be waiting room, with reception here," he explained, indicating where the renovation will take place.

st. francis interior

Interior view of St. Francis of Assisi Church

It will be more than double the size of his current waiting room.

Caring for more than 3,000 animals, his practice outgrew his current space.

Now, just under 6,000 square feet of St. Francis of Assisi Church will be used as the veterinary hospital.

The doctor would also like to include a pet store and maybe add a grooming service.

"My main problems with putting the vet practice over here, is if a bird gets lose we will never catch it!"

Dr. Trippett has wanted to expand for years, but never imagined this would be the site of his new location.

"I think it's a good deal for the community, too. it would be a shame to just knock this place down. I suspect that was the way it was heading."

The veterinary hospital should be up and running at the former church by the summer of next year.

Exterior detail of St. Francis of Assisi Church

Exterior detail of St. Francis of Assisi Church

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