New Brunswick

Materials salvaged from old convent

Habitat for Humanity volunteers are salvaging materials from the Sisters of Charity's old convent in Saint John before it's demolished.

Goods to be sold at Habitat for Humanity ReStore

The St. Vincent's Chapel and convent are slated to be demolished in March. (CBC)

The Saint Vincent Chapel in Saint John has been handed over to Bird Construction for the eventual demolition of the 147-year-old building.

But over the weekend, about 30 volunteers with Habitat for Humanity worked to salvage materials from the adjacent Sisters of Charity's convent, Motherhouse, before the bulldozers arrive.

The volunteers removed truckloads of furniture, light fixtures, doors and other building materials from the heritage building on Cliff Street during the so-called deconstruction.

The donated goods were transported to the Habitat ReStore on Rothesay Avenue, where they will be sold for less than retail price, said Dave Delaney, the store's executive director.

Some of the volunteers who helped salvage materials from the convent. (Courtesy of Habitat for Humanity)
Any profits will go toward the non-profit organization's future homebuilding projects.

"The Sisters of Charity are also great stewards of the environment and they like to divert stuff from the landfill exactly as Habitat for Humanity does and that's what we do at the Re-store," said Delaney.

"It is a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity and we solicit donations and new and used building materials and furniture to, I guess you say to recycle."

At one point, more than 100 Catholic sisters lived at St. Vincent's. The remaining 17 sisters moved to a new residence on Burpee Avenue in November.

When Habitat for Humanity contacted them, asking if they had anything to salvage, the congregational leader Sister Mary Beth McCurdy supported the idea.

"Part of us is always about sharing with others what we have," she said.

Habitat volunteers have until Friday to harvest what they can from the convent, which is slated to be demolished in March, said Delaney.

It's unclear what the sisters will do with the land once the buildings are torn down.

Meanwhile, Habitat expects to start the second phase of a home it's building on Omega Drive in March.

It's the organization's fifteenth build in the greater Saint John area, he said.

Delaney hopes to see an additional two homes built this year.