PORTLAND — Bishop Richard Malone will soon move from a 16-room mansion in one of Portland’s most upscale neighborhoods to a three-bedroom home in a suburban subdivision.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland announced Tuesday that Malone’s mansion on the Western Promenade will be put up for sale.

The bishop will move into a three-bedroom Colonial-style home at 21 Twin Ponds Drive in Falmouth. The house is part of a 14-lot subdivision off Falmouth Road. The diocese bought the home on June 14, according to records at the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds.

Sue Bernard, spokeswoman for the diocese, described the move as a way for the diocese to save money on heating, maintenance and property taxes. She said Malone made the decision after consulting with his advisers.

She said the home in West Falmouth is “substantially smaller,” is new construction, and is more cost-efficient. The three-story, Federal-style mansion in Portland has nearly 7,000 square feet of living space. An Internet search showed that the Falmouth property had a list price of $599,000 and just under 3,000 square feet of living space.

“We are doing what we feel is the best thing, given the resources we have,” Bernard said. “I think everyone, in this economy, wants to do practical things. We also want to be good stewards of the money that we have.”

Bernard said the mansion at 199 Western Promenade was purchased by the diocese in 1938 from Morris McDonald. The diocese, under Bishop Joseph McCarthy, planned to convert it into a group home for destitute elderly women but West End residents objected to the use, and plans for the home were dropped, Bernard said. It eventually was converted into the bishop’s residence.

Malone has lived there by himself since he became bishop in 2004.

Bernard said the stately red brick mansion is used for various diocesan functions – from fundraisers and social gatherings to conferences, retreats, dinners and business meetings.

Portland’s assessing records describe the building, built in 1900 near the intersection of Western Promenade and Pine Street, as a 16-room mansion with six bedrooms, four full bathrooms, one half-bath and a separate three-car garage.

Annual property taxes are $16,576.

“We feel proud that it is part of our history,” said Bernard, but Malone and his advisers felt it was the right time to downsize.

Bernard said the diocese has not settled on a selling price; city tax records from 2010 list the mansion’s assessed value at $925,000. Proceeds from the sale will pay for the purchase and maintenance of the home in Falmouth.

Anne Gregory, Falmouth’s assessor, said the diocese bought the home at 21 Twin Ponds Drive from Kirsten and Scott Buchanan on June 14. The state has not yet notified the town of the sale price, but in 2008 the house was assessed at $525,000.

The Buchanans bought the home in 2001 for $427,000, Gregory said. It includes a two-car attached garage and 1.37 acres.

In 2009, Dorothy Pesce of Windham wrote a guest editorial in response to a Portland Press Herald column that was critical of Malone’s living arrangement, at a time when the diocese was closing five churches.

After Pesce, a lifelong Catholic, was told Tuesday that the mansion will be sold, she said she supports the decision, despite the property’s historical significance.

“I don’t see a problem as long as (Malone) has quarters that are adequate,” she said. “Times are tough, and the church has to deal with tough times as well.”

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]