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The history of St. Hyacinth

The history of St. Hyacinth

Westbrook has historically been home to many Catholic Canadian families attracted to the area by the industrial work offered. In 1877, a parcel of land on Brown Street was purchased and St. Hyacinth Church was erected.

In 1881, St. Hyacinth Parochial School started classes for kindergarten through eighth grade in their new school building on Walker Street. This little wooden school was replaced in 1893 by the large brick building that stands today. The building was designed by Coburn & Son, architects of Lewiston, and shows the combination of brick masonry and granite trim and interior finishes typical for late 19th century school buildings.

Originally, the nuns who taught at the school lived in that building as well. However, the growth of the student population necessitated additional classroom space, so the existing convent building to house the nuns was added in 1921. Designed by Timothy G. O'Connell of Boston, the brick building features cast stone trim, understated Gothic details and varnished "craftsman catalogue"-style interior trim.

In 1963, the last eighth grade class graduated from St. Hyacinth School; grades 1 through 6 continued there for a few more years. Following its use as a school and convent, the property was home to the St. Hyacinth Historical Society and the Westbrook Food Pantry, then as storage space and an occasional youth retreat. Prior to the redevelopment, both buildings were vacant and showing signs of disrepair and neglect.

Historic information and photo courtesty of the Westbrook Historical Society