Possible Adaptive Reuse In Store for Sacred Heart

What adaptive reuse do you think could work for Sacred Heart?

The future of Sacred Heart in Cutchogue remains uncertain.

Recently, Michael Malkush, president of the Cutchogue-New Suffolk Historical Council said that the church, the CNS Historical Council, the community and the town were all on the same page, hoping to explore ways to preserve the historic buildings and also consider possible adaptive uses for an eventual sale.

Despite some speculation, Malkash said there was absolutely no truth to an absolutely untrue online post from an individual who rumored that a drug rehab was coming to Sacred Heart.

"We have been working very hard with the church, town and the community to preserve and help find adaptive uses for the church. A drug rehab center is not one of it. Furthermore, there is a school next door. I spoke with church and town officials along with other members of our Save Sacred Heart Committee and that will never happen," he said.

According to Zach Studenroth, director of the Cutchogue-New Suffolk Historical Council and the co-chairman and spokesperson for the Save the Sacred Heart Church committee, he would characterize Sacred Heart as a "developing story."

Studenroth said the committee is working toward a positive outcome in the future. "There will certainly be at least one more milestone here," he said. 

In June, a representative for the Diocese of Rockville Centre said evaluation, with no definite plans for Sacred Heart, was ongoing.

“The Diocese is not aware of any definitive plans for any buildings on the Sacred Heart parish campus. The parish, along with the Diocese, continues to evaluate the best use of all of its resources for its parishioners,” said Sean P. Dolan, spokesman for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, after a number of requests from Patch about the future of the church, rectory, and convent.

The Sacred Heart Church, closed since December, 2012, as well as the rectory and carriage house, is one of seven properties listed as 'endangered' by the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, was built in the late 1870s.

Despite a sit-in by some parishoners to keep church services going at the Roman Catholic worship house, was ultimately considered too much of a danger to keep open.

“The interior walls are detaching from the studs,” Deacon Jeff Sykes told Patch shortly after the parish held its final mass. “This is due to years of water damage leaking into the church — the foundation bricks are collapsing and the cross beams are rotted. We cannot guarantee the safety of the church.”

Repairs have been estimated to be as much as $2 million – though some churchgoers, hoping to keep it open, have doubted those numbers. 

But despite worries from some church members that the Roman Catholic Diocese has plans to tear down the structure — a true landmark of downtown Cutchogue — Sykes said that is not the case.

“The Diocese is reactive, not proactive,” Sykes said. “The decision to close had to be made by us, the parish, not them. The plan was to close the doors, and we are not sure of future plans, but to say that we plan to tear it down is totally inaccurate.”

Lynn McCaffery Stevens, one of the protest organizers with deep ties to Sacred Heart, said earlier this year that she still had her doubts about the motivation behind the closure.

“Once it’s closed, what is to stop them from tearing it down?” she said. 

Do you think a decision about the parish should be made sooner than later? Share your thoughts with Patch.


joe insider February 08, 2014 at 11:34 AM
The town already has a church converted to a theater and is not big enough to support two. A gallery would be nice but is financially unrealistic and untenable. I agree that it would be a shame, actually a sin, to tear it down but finding a compatible use will be a challenge. A change of zone brings up all sorts of legal issues not to mention the unlikely use compatibility with a school next door that is apparently going to continue operating as a school. The best scenario would be for a church with a growing congregation to buy or lease it to continue its current use.
ed finnegan February 08, 2014 at 12:20 PM
if the water damage is such that $2million is required to render the building safe for church purpose presumably the same is required to" adapt"the building for any other purpose which includes human occupancy who has $2million to spare? if it can be adapted for use as a theatre(?) or gallery(?) or church(?) or any such other, why not return it to its original purpose - as the church for the congregants of Sacred Heart Parish?
joe insider February 08, 2014 at 03:08 PM
Mr. Finnegan; your point is well taken. I suppose the cost of repair for sufficient occupancy is the biggest hurdle to clear. Of course, the best use would be its most recent use.
John of Greenport February 08, 2014 at 10:53 PM
sell the place and put the $$$ in trust for all the former young men who were abused by the pedophile clergy. It was so widespread but never rally corrected.Everyone is just pretending is was a small percentage and ended so long ago. BS.
Benja Schwartz February 09, 2014 at 08:03 AM
Adaptive Reuse Wanted #1 hold a conference with representatives from The Church CNS Historical Council Southold Town and, The Community Agree on a purpose and process. Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement Starting with assembling the facts - documenting the building, history, condition and neighborhood Next hold a competition for proposals and suggestions Pay attention, but do not be put off by Joe Russell Insider. He is a negative person. It will take all kinds of people working together to turn this building around!
Benja Schwartz February 09, 2014 at 08:14 AM
An ideal use would involve #1 A preservation / demolition / renovation to repair and rebuild the structure. #2 Creation of a Southold Town Library operated by Suffolk County Library System including an historical section and focused on the present and future. #3 the project should be expanded to serve as a redefinition of Cutchogue Center, Not only other buildings close by but also including the almost 50 acre undeveloped property on to the North http://www.savecutchogue.com/docs/ are overripe for development into something that will contribute rather than detract from the North Fork and East End.
Benja Schwartz February 09, 2014 at 08:23 AM
The current litigation over the ~50 acre spot zone that provides for development of the former farmland on the edge of Cutchogue Center is on the agenda for this Tue Town Board in the 12th Executive session since there was any public discussion. Open up the conversation to the public redesignate this area as Cutchogue Commons. The potential for a public private partnership is being threatened by incredible plans to develop this property for private benefit and significant destructive impacts on the local natural and cultural environments.
ed finnegan February 09, 2014 at 09:50 AM
please , let us all remember : the building belongs to Sacred Heart Parish ...so, while it is nice of all of you who would reconstruct this world in accord with your personal notions. it isn't yours to play with!...some children never understand this basic principal of social interaction.
Caroline Waloski February 09, 2014 at 10:08 AM
I think everyone who is responding to this is concerned about losing another architectural North Fork treasure. Just trying to demonstrate we care about preserving our history. These are not dictates...just a wish list.
John of Greenport February 09, 2014 at 01:55 PM
Hopefully the 50 acre site will shortly be developed as tasteful over 55 community with positive architectural, cultural and environmental improvement. That new influx to Cutchogue would increase likelihood the building could be preserved. Let's all try to help the developer.
Frank T February 09, 2014 at 04:53 PM
Wow 50 acres of new housing, that's a lot of sewage with nowhere to go.
John of Greenport February 09, 2014 at 10:23 PM
Probably less damaging than the fertilizer now foisted on the land and less than Founders Village while inceasing the tax base without burdening the school system. And with enougn area to create abetter system than the septics now existing.
local resident February 10, 2014 at 08:15 AM
For those of you so very interested in preserving the building , please speak with the pastor and parish about setting up a fund to raise the 2M to save Sacred Heart Church. It would allow the building to continue to function in its' original and historic purposes....as a house of worship. All these ideas do not take into account that Sacred Heart sits between a regional Catholic elementary school with shared parking and play area and the parish rectory. So if you all are so excited and want to save the church then set up a restoration fund, do some fundraising and get it done!
Caroline Waloski February 10, 2014 at 09:10 AM
Fund raising is a good point. Has the parish started an initiative in this direction?
Benja Schwartz February 10, 2014 at 11:34 AM
@ Ed Finnegan : >> some children never understand this basic principal of social interaction << Your comment addresses a single issue - ownership - then digresses into a personal attack. The owner is being incommunicative. I think the community needs to start a conversation regarding government regulations such as zoning and other aspects of this building the church has stated it no longer needs and closed the historic public use of the property.
John of Greenport February 10, 2014 at 11:41 AM
The church has stated it wants to also close the rectory and the priest will be located in Mattituck. so the entire piece of property is available for sale.
Caroline Waloski February 10, 2014 at 11:55 AM
Hopefully a buyer with a love of the beauty of the North Fork, and its history will come forward as a savior.
local resident February 10, 2014 at 11:57 AM
Mr. Edelson, this is interesting news! Where did you hear or read that the property is for sale? Are you on the parish council? I was wondering about your source. I am also sure that Our Lady of Mercy School and families would be interested in your response. And Ms. Waloski, feel free to head-up a fundraising group after speaking with the pastor if he gives his okay. I am sure that he would not want to ask the Sacred Heart parishioners to have to do so after having started a capital campaign to "save" our mission church, Our Lady of Good Counsel, Mattituck, just a year or two ago. It certainly would be a difficult burden on people who have just made a three year pledge to help save our other parish church building. We all love Sacred Heart Church but financially there is just so much the parishioners can do. Maybe others would like to help since the community seems so concerned.
Caroline Waloski February 10, 2014 at 12:07 PM
If the property is a burden to the parish then the sale of it to a responsible buyer seems like a good solution. The beauty of the old church should make it desirable, and the financial gain would help the Mattituck church.
local resident February 10, 2014 at 12:24 PM
Okay that is all grand. Our Lady of Good Council has received enough pledges and support to remodel and care for it.so at this time additional funds are unnecessary. No one said the church building in Cutchogue is a burden on the parish but at this time we don't have the funds to make repairs. Also,what is most interesting is that all of you do not comment on the impact your "big sale" would have to the regional Catholic elementary school , which also sits on this parcel of land. Since you are all making all these grand plans to dispose of our church and rectory with a sale to unknown parties of interest, what exactly will you have done to the school?
John of Greenport February 10, 2014 at 12:29 PM
read where some of the $$$ goes to. at www.bishopaccountability.org.
local resident February 10, 2014 at 12:55 PM
AAhhh, Mr. Edleson, we now see where your true interests and purposes lie. It is not with saving Sacred Heart Church that is just "smoke". Also, the point of this article and postings seem frivolous because as far as most are concerned, it is a non-issue. Has the parish asked for any of your input including the writer/editor of the non-story? Why do you all feel it necessary to speculate and create issues and problems, where there are none currently. When and if a decision is made or announced about Sacred Heart, then you can add your two cents but until that time, why do you assume it is your duty, your right or your business?
Frank T February 10, 2014 at 01:21 PM
Since the historic property sits on tax exempt land and parishioners contributed to the church for 20 plus years while the diocese let the building fail into disrepair as a result of neglect I believe it is the business of residents. I agree with local regarding setting up a fund to restore the building but it would have to be separate from the church. Once they get there hands on that money who knows where it will go.
Caroline Waloski February 10, 2014 at 01:24 PM
Dear "Local Resident" I don't understand your anger towards the community and the local media for their being sympathetic towards the financial plight of the parish, as well as trying to preserve the lovely old church. The loss of a historic building in our community is everyones business. Hope the old church can be saved, and that you can find inner peace and spirituality.
Caroline Waloski February 10, 2014 at 01:33 PM
Lisa Finn....Thank you for your reporting this article about the old church in Cutchogue. It is good to know that our local media supports the beauty and history of our area. An article like this can bring attention to the plight of the church and help them in finding financial aid to save this wonderful architectural treasure.
local resident February 10, 2014 at 01:53 PM
Well Frank, I too have been contributing for 20+ years too and love the parish and building built by the original Irish immigrants who founded the parish. I do not think town residents have a say in what happens to the church building, only parishioners. I would never think of meddling in other congregations concerns or plans for their structures...tax exempt or not. I do know from the article found above that there is a "Save Sacred Heart Committee" but I have yet to read of or be invited to, any fundraising events. Maybe they are hoping to find a deep pocket donor? Well anyway, actions speak louder than words...so start doing something. And Frank, if you are so concerned that the donated funds, which you are about to raise, will be misused by the Diocese or other inscrutable types, it would be wise to set-up an escrow account for the sole purpose of the repair of Sacred Heart Church. So Frank, Caroline, Mike and Benja, you have a lot of work to do in order to raise the 2M, so the sooner you get started the better for all concerned! It is great to see so many volunteers for this excellent cause.
John of Greenport February 10, 2014 at 02:01 PM
As a resident and taxpayer, I care about preserving the beautiful architectural feature of the Sacred Heart Church. As an American i have the right to comment about it. I recall a story published last year in the Suffolk Times that said the pastor desired to have his residence in Mattituck where most of the parishioners and the church services are. While many local parishioners seem truly devout it is also quite certain that the plague of pedophile priests has caused untold financial resources to go to 'buy off" or recompense those molested. And as long term residents know, the North fork was not spared this evil. Worse was the Church's silence in not disclosing the evil within it and covering up the scandals. How the Church ( not the parish) is presently so secretive about its plans for these properties is reminiscent of its past code of silence to protect itself from disclosure. and hide the facts. The North Fork Reform Synagogue has been sharing the Presbyterian Church in Cutchogue. Perhaps its expanding group could take over Sacred Heart for its use.
Frank T February 10, 2014 at 02:04 PM
Local, why did the parish let the building fall into disrepair? If the building was maintained over a 20 year period the $2 million renovation would not be necessary. I have doubts that the building will be saved by the diocese if they could make a nice profit on a sale. Look at the historic North Hills mansion recently sold by the Jesuits to Hong Kong developers.
local resident February 10, 2014 at 02:13 PM
Caroline, I am sorry that you read my discourse as anger. Often you really can't tell a person's feelings from the written word but you are so kind to attempt to analyze my feelings and thoughts. I will pray that you find your own inner strength to volunteer and raise the funds to save this lovely church for Sacred Heart Parish as that would be a real act of kindness. Peace.
John February 10, 2014 at 06:54 PM
"Mike Edelson February 10, 2014 at 02:01 PM As a resident and taxpayer, I care about preserving the beautiful architectural feature of the Sacred Heart Church." It's odd that you would claim residency in Cutchogue, the person most people associate with the name Mike Edleson lives in Greenport.


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