A landmark Norwalk building is being razed to make room for other needs. People always expect me to panic when this happens, but I decided a long time ago that nothing is forever and that the only constant in the world is change. Furthermore, if someone owns a building it is private property to be dealt with as the owner sees fit. So, don't expect a hysterical reaction from me because the former rectory of St. Mary Catholic parish on State Street is being removed.
Ground was to be broken for this large building in May of 1905, but the construction contract was not awarded until October of 1906. Norwalk contractor John Vaughn was the general contractor, and had the building completed by early in the year 1907. The exterior was Sandusky limestone, and some of the interior walls are supposed to have been built of bricks from the original parish church at the corner of Milan Avenue and St. Mary's Street.
You see, the original St. Mary Catholic Church was built of brick. Work started in 1857 and the exterior was completed the next year. Rev. Narcissus Ponchell was the pastor, and died Sept. 15, 1860 with out the interior detail finished. He was well-though of by his "flock," and was entombed in a crypt under the church.
Rev. Ponchell's remains were removed to the parish cemetery in 1900 and the old church torn down in 1904. It has stood empty for 10 years. The Milan Avenue location was the original center of St. Mary parish activities. This was an Irish parish, and the old St. Peter parish on West Main (the predecessor of St. Paul) was German. The first Irish families had lived on Milan along with some German families, but the Irish interests soon changed to West League, State, Baker, and other streets there.