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Demolition of Toledo's St. Anthony Church to begin in June

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    St. Anthony Catholic Church in Toledo

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    The steeple of St. Anthony Church is a landmark along Nebraska Avenue.

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    A cement plaque on the outside of the historic St. Anthony Church

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    St. Anthony Church, on the corner of Junction and Nebraska avenues in Toledo, is surrounded by fencing.

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The steeple of St. Anthony Church is a landmark along Nebraska Avenue.

The Blade/Kurt Steiss
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Demolition of St. Anthony Catholic Church is expected to begin in June, according to the Diocese of Toledo.

The diocese announced late last year that it planned to raze the long vacant church, whose towering steeple has been a landmark along Nebraska Avenue in Toledo for more than a century. In its statement at the time, the diocese noted recent signs of deterioration at the church.

St. Anthony has not seen regular parishioners since 2005, when it was shuttered amid a wave of church closures and mergers under then-Bishop Leonard Blair. These came in response to shifting population patterns among diocesan parishes and a declining number of priests.

Diocesan spokesman Kelly Donaghy said she could not provide an exact date for the demolition, but that it could begin as early as June 1. The work is expected to last two months and to begin with the removal of the steeple, according to a statement released by the Padua Center, the community outreach organization that operates out of its adjacent former rectory.

The Padua Center indicated that it will be a controlled demolition, meaning there will be no wrecking balls or implosions. L.J. Irving & Son’s Demolition, of Napoleon, is handling it.

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A cement plaque on the outside of the historic St. Anthony Church

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Portions of Nebraska and Junction avenues will be blocked at times throughout the demolition process, and security is set to patrol the property, according to the Padua Center.

The diocese is donating the cleared property to the Padua Center, which was founded by the diocese in 2006 and later became an outreach of the Old West End’s St. Martin de Porres Parish. The Padua Center is directed by Sister Virginia Welsh.

Padua Center activities will shift to St. Martin de Porres Parish, 1119 W. Bancroft St., throughout the demolition process. This includes its summer camps, as well as the Kwanzaa Park Neighbors Meetings scheduled for June 7, July 5, and Aug. 2.

For questions on Padua Center programs, contact Sister Virginia at 419-241-6465.

St. Anthony held its inaugural Mass in 1894. Erected to serve the rapidly increasing number of Polish Catholic families who were moving into the neighborhood at the time, it became an anchor of Kuschwantz, one of two predominantly Polish neighborhoods in the city.

The other, Lagrinka, is better known today. It centers on Lagrange Street

St. Anthony operated a parish school on the property between 1901 and 1972. By the time it closed in 2005, parish membership had dwindled to a few hundred.

Contact Nicki Gorny at ngorny@theblade.com or 419-724-6133.

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