The vestry of St. Paul Episcopal Church, 87 W. Main St. has voted to tear down the rectory adjacent to the main church building.
The vestry is the representative elected body in an Episcopal parish.
The building has reached the end of its useful life, and the vestry decided that given its state of disrepair and a water pipe break earlier this year, the best stewardship of the parish's resources is to raze the building. This decision has received the required approval of the standing committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio.
The original purpose of the building was to be the home for the priest serving the parish. It is increasingly uncommon for clergy to live next door to the churches they serve. The last time this rectory was occupied by the parish priest was more than 20 years ago.
Since that time, the rectory has had a series of renters and most recently has been used for storage.
"The decision is a difficult one," said the Rev. Margaret D'Anieri, rector of the parish. "The cost of maintaining such a large, old building became prohibitive given the financial resources of the parish. We explored every avenue we could think of, including moving the building or selling it. Its proximity to the church building makes it impossible to sell. The parish has more physical plant than it needs. Our priorities are to maintain our magnificent sanctuary and minister to the Norwalk community."
Once the building has been taken down, the area will be landscaped, with some parking places added that will provide easier access to the sanctuary through a side door that currently is not used.
"Historic preservation has been a priority for many of those who attend St. Paul Episcopal," parishioner Jim Gerken said. "Many of us cherish the Main Street district and the history it celebrates.
"To lose any portion of it is unfortunate but we believe the vestry has made the right decision. We can't let an expensive building in need of much repair, with no practical use, compromise our ability to carefully maintain the true gems in our stewardship, the church and Benedict Chapel."