WESTBROOK — The new owners of a former church on Main Street are considering several uses for the building, from a multicultural center to a performing arts venue.

The Universalist Church of Westbrook closed last year due to falling membership, and the congregation gave its 130-year-old building to the Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church in Portland.

That church, in turn, is donating the property at 719 Main St. to Westbrook Housing in a deal that is expected to be finalized next week, said Trudy McNulty, a member of the Portland congregation.

How to use the building and pay for maintainance are unresolved, said John Gallagher, Westbrook Housing’s executive director. He said the building is structurally sound but needs more than $200,000 in repairs, including a new roof and boiler.

The property, including the building and 0.3 acres, is assessed at $456,400, according to city records.

Westbrook Housing staff, members of the Portland church and city residents have discussed potential uses for the building.

McNulty said some immigrant and cultural groups need space for events but can’t afford to buy their own buildings. If the church was transformed into a multicultural center, “many groups could use it and share their heritages with everyone else,” she said.

The building is known for its acoustics and with seating for 200, it could be used for performances as well, McNulty said.

Gallagher said he expects the building to host events this summer. One idea is to display the work of local artists or host an acoustic performance during Westbrook Together Days on the first weekend in June, he said.

“Your juices get flowing … and you can think of all kinds of things that can happen here,” he said. “The issue is, how do you pay for it?”

Westbrook Housing is considering grant applications, fundraising and charging minimal rental fees to cover operating costs, Gallagher said.

McNulty said the church plans to continue working with Westbrook Housing to develop uses for the building.

“If we can’t have a church, then we should continue to try to serve the community in another way,” she said.

 

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at: 791-6364 or at [email protected]