BC takes possession of Brighton property

As June came to a close, the Archdiocese of Boston made final preparations to hand over a large portion of its Brighton campus — including the former archbishop’s residence —to Boston College.

The archdiocese and the Jesuit-run university announced in late April that they had reached an agreement for BC to acquire 46 acres of property for $99.4 million. BC took possession of the property July 1. Included in the sale were the former archbishop’s residence, St. William Hall, St. Clement Hall — which was already under lease to BC — a gymnasium and an equipment garage.

According to BC spokesman Jack Dunn, the college has not announced specific plans for the property but anticipates that those buildings used as office space will continue to serve that function and open space will be used for intramural sports.

As the deadline for the sale approached, employees and facility workers struggled against a tight deadline to vacate offices in buildings to be sold.

"Moving a department with six months notice is hard enough," wrote Father James Mahoney, director of the Pastoral Institute, in a broadcast email sent to all archdiocesan employees. "Selling and emptying an entire building in a matter of a few weeks notice with 45 guest bedrooms, eight suites, two chapels, three large meeting rooms and industrial kitchens, as well as the entire Master of Arts in Ministry Program with all of its classrooms, meeting rooms, offices and gathering spaces is enormous."

The Pastoral Institute had been headquartered in St. William Hall before its sale to BC.

According Father Mahoney, most of the desks, chairs and liturgical items from St. William’s were donated to the Diocese of Juticalpa, Honduras and will be used in Catholic schools, mission chapels and an AIDS hospice there.

The bedroom and kitchen furnishings, along with non-perishable food items, were donated to My Brother’s Keeper of Easton, an organization with close ties to the Holy Cross Fathers and Brothers that provides food and furniture at no cost to those in need.

Meanwhile, employees and staff at the former archbishop’s residence also worked to relocate offices and equipment to new locations. Although the archbishop now resides in the rectory of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, the former archbishop’s residence had continued to be used by his staff and other archdiocesan offices. The archbishop’s offices are now located in main chancery building.

Earlier in June chancery employees had been given an opportunity obtain items from the residence that were not slated to be relocated or donated including furniture, flatware, lamps and pictures. Employees were limited to one shopping bag of smaller household items on a first-come-first-served basis. Larger items were distributed through a random drawing.

In addition to household and office items, two other prominent objects were removed from the residence grounds in preparation for the property’s hand over to BC.

A16-foot Celtic Cross, formerly located on the lawn of the residence, now sits outside the seminary library. Unveiled in 1904, it is a monument to the first rector of St. John’s Seminary, Father John B. Hogan.

A 15,000-pound, solid marble statue of the Virgin Mary that for decades kept silent watch outside the archbishop’s residence was also moved. Over the course of two days the statue was lifted from its pedestal and relocated to Holy Cross Cemetery in Malden.

Though BC would have been “glad to have” the cross and the statue, the archdiocese chose not to include them in the sale, Dunn said.

Still to be determined is the disposition the remains of Cardinal William O’Connell. Cardinal O’Connell is entombed in a small shire that sits on the land acquired by BC. According to Dunn, the cardinal’s family and the archdiocese are currently discussing the relocation of the remains.