Herald JournalHerald Journal, Feb. 16, 2004

Holy Trinity convent torn down

By Ryan Gueningsman

An almost 50-year old piece of Winsted's history was torn down last week.

The corporate board of Holy Trinity voted to tear the convent down to make room for a "much needed and expanded elementary school," according to the alumni newsletter.

The Holy Trinity convent, which was home for many sisters, and housed many other things, including Title One classes, Tiny Trojans pre-school, and the Worn-a-Bit shop, was torn down as a part of Holy Trinity's Capital Campaign project, with the hope of expanding the schools to the land that the convent was on.

The convent building was built in the spring of 1958, according to the Holy Trinity history book, written by Fr. Bob Wyffels. Because of the crowded conditions in the school and previos convent, it was decided that it was necessary to build a new convent at that time.

In the 1960s, there were 34 sisters stationed in Winsted, some at Holy Trinity, and some at St. Mary's.

In 1980, during Fr. Jack Brunner's term at Holy Trinity, the parish center was moved from the rectory to the first floor of the convent, which meant that the sisters living quarters were moved to the north end of the building.

This arrangement seemed a little confining to the sisters, but they quickly adjusted, according to the history book. Four years later, when Wyffels was pastor, the parish center was moved back to the rectory.

This move made it possible for the Winsted Public School to rent four rooms in the convent for assisting special needs students.

The room that housed the sisters chapel became Tiny Trojans preschool. The convent alter was moved to the cemetery in 1994, and placed under the arch, according to the history book.

By 1985, Sister Marcelle and Sister Catherine Mary were the only two sisters living in the convent. At that time, the entire basement was being used for the Worn-A-Bit shop and a quilting room.

The question was raised at that time whether the convent should be sold. A prospective buyer was found, but two new sisters moved into the convent, nixing plans to sell it.

Several other sisters came in the early '90s to live at the convent and work at Holy Trinity. By 1998, however, the number was down to four ­ Sisters Emmanuel, Catherine Mary, Francita, and Jean.

Now serving Holy Trinity are Sisters Jean Becker, Francita Schermann, and Mary Ellen McRaith. They reside at apartments in Winsted.

The sisters moved out of the convent building about five years ago, and since that time the building has been used for Tiny Trojans and the Holy Trinity Child Care Center.

"It has not been used as it was intended and therefore has had limited usage and ability for renovation," according to the alumni newsletter. Asbestos abatement and demolition costs were estimated at $90,000.

BelAir Excavating of New Brighton handled the demolition process.

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