Thursday, 20 September 2018 16:02

Couple converts former church into event center Featured

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ORONO - A century-old church has reopened as an event center in Orono.

St. Mary's Catholic Church closed its doors in 2009 and sat empty for a year before a couple bought it.


"We fell in love with it," co-owner Fariba Dayhim said.


"We didn't mean for it to become a business. I wanted it for my house and we figured it's not realistic," Dayhim said with a laugh.


Wednesday's ribbon cutting ceremony marked the official opening of the reception halls.


The downstairs was completely renovated and the upstairs was restored to its original form, to be used for more formal events, like weddings.


Engineers and architects and the owners themselves worked to restore the outside stonework, repair the steeple and much more to get the building up to code.


And that was not an easy task for a building originally finished in 1905.


"That was before excavators and all the modern equipment and all the safety measures," said Oscar Emerson of Down to Earth Professional Land Services. "And I just - you could feel the people that might have worked on this church."


The church's 3,500-pound bell is on display in front of the building.


Seeing the once falling apart structure restored means a lot to former parishioners.


"I was very sorry when I heard that they were going to close the church," former parishioner Pauline Butler said.


Another woman, who proudly said she was the oldest person in Orono, was baptized, received her first communion, was confirmed and was married at St. Mary's.


"It's beautiful. I just could not wait to get up here to see the beautiful job they did," she said.


For the owners, the restored church is not just a labor of love but a way to pass on that beauty to a new generation.


"I'm the happiest man when I see people are coming and enjoy the building," co-owner Sean Pourmomtaz said.

Kelly Mitchell

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Kelly Mitchell joined the news team in March of 2018. She grew up splitting her time between York, ME and Haverhill, MA, but her favorite childhood memories took place along the rocky coast of southern Maine. She's now e...

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