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DeKalb purchases church

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DEKALB JUNCTION — The town of DeKalb has purchased St. Henry’s Catholic Church for $10,500 for use as a library and other community purposes.

“We’re trying to look at the future,” Supervisor John M. Frary said. “It’s nice to make sure these old buildings are used.”

The church at 27 Gibbons St. was offered to the town because it was not being used regularly. St. Henry’s parish merged with Canton’s St. Mary’s Church nearly a decade ago. Afterward, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg changed the status of St. Henry’s Church from a parish to an oratory, meaning it could still be used as a place of prayer but that regular Sunday Masses no longer took place there.

The town seized the opportunity.

It will spend the next year getting the building in shape, to include a roof, stripping out the basement and improving handicapped accessibility, including a bathroom and lift, Mr. Frary said. The church removed the stained-glass windows, so they will be replaced.

The basement will become a library.

“I’m just excited about the way the public has responded,” Mr. Frary said.

The Richville Free Library will assist DeKalb with the setup.

“I guess you’d call it an outreach project. I think it’s important for people who like to read to be able to access a library,” said Lila M. Youngs, manager of the Richville library. “We have a lot of books if they want them. We get some wonderful donations and there are often duplications.”

The Richville library will assist so long as its help is needed, Mrs. Youngs said.

“I think they’ve got good community support and our board of trustees will do what it can,” she said.

While DeKalb could become a satellite of the Richville library, Mrs. Youngs said she thought it more likely that DeKalb would stand on its own.

DeKalb Junction once had a penny library where patrons could come in and borrow a book for small change. The community also supported a bookstore for several years.

“The interest has been there all along,” Mrs. Youngs said. “I think it will be wonderful.”

The town has not settled on how the rest of the building will be used, but there are several possibilities, including a community center, courtroom, and offices for several town departments, including code enforcement and assessor.

“We have to lay things out,” Mr. Frary said. “The upstairs is in great shape.”

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