Looking back on the Garage

Garage in June 2023.  


The garage was demolished in September, but it served the Motherhouse well for almost 60 years. A large garage, including living quarters for employees, had been built on the Motherhouse property in 1951; unfortunately, it didn’t survive being moved to make way for the construction of the Administration wing in 1963. The garage we knew, including a residence, was built in 1964.

December 16, 1963 – Congregational Annals“…on October 14 an optimistic sub-contractor undertook to move the garage and men’s residence without removing the furniture. The inevitable happened when the building collapsed causing total destruction. Today work is being concentrated on a new men’s residence and garage which we hope will be ready for occupancy in the spring.”

In 1979 the garage was renovated to convert the living quarters into storage space and in 1987 the garage was expanded once again to accommodate the maintenance shop, which had previously been located in the Motherhouse.

April 30, 1987 – Congregational Annals“For years the maintenance shop for the Motherhouse has been in the old boiler room under the auditorium. This was a rather dreary dusty place to work. Led by Joseph Vanderhelm, the men of the staff designed and built a new shop on the south end of the garage. They had an open house to give the Sisters a chance to see their new work area. Everyone admired the organization, neatness and beautiful view. The men are to be commended for planning well and building inexpensively.”

In the winter of 1998-1999, a greenhouse was built onto the back of the garage. The greenhouse was designed by William Vanderhelm and built by the maintenance department, using the old windows from the Marian Wing, which was being renovated at that time. The greenhouse was used by the Heirloom Seed Sanctuary for 20 years. The garage, shop and greenhouse successfully met numerous needs on the Motherhouse property for years and have now been demolished to make way for a new vision.

As part of designing the greenhouse, William Vanderhelm created a model of the garage and proposed greenhouse. The model is now part of the Archive’s collection.