December 25, 2012

Ex-church to become temple in Westbrook

The Hindu facility will draw members from some of the estimated 2,000 people in Maine with links to India.

From staff reports

A former church on Westbrook's Main Street will soon be used as a Hindu temple.

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The former Universalist Church of Westbrook has been purchased for use as a Hindu temple. The Universalist Church closed in 2010 due to dwindling membership.

John Ewing/2012 Press Herald file

Maine Hindu Temple has purchased the former Universalist Church of Westbrook. The deal closed Friday.

"It's a great day for all of us. The community came together," Sandeep Gandra, the organization's secretary, said Monday.

The group is considering some auspicious dates, in consultation with priests, for the opening of the temple, Gandra said. A date has not yet been set.

The temple's membership will draw from the Indian population in Maine, Gandra said, which he estimated at more than 2,000.

"There are people coming from Augusta. I think some in Bangor and some down south in Lyman and Sanford -- people from all over Maine," he said.

Gandra said no major changes are planned for the building, which was built in 1840.

The Universalist Church of Westbrook, located at 719 Main St., closed in 2010 due to dwindling membership.

It was donated last year to Westbrook Housing, but the agency's ideas to convert the property into a multicultural, arts or senior center never came to fruition.

The agency sold the building to Maine Hindu Temple for $75,000, which will cover expenses associated with owning and selling the structure. The balance will go toward a new senior center planned on Foster Street, said Susan Eldridge, interim director of Westbrook Housing.

The building is assessed at $456,400, according to city records.

Maine Hindu Temple had been involved in the purchase of another church building, the former First Universalist Church of Scarborough and South Buxton, earlier this year. That temple, which is on County Road in Scarborough, is run by an organization called First Maine Hindu Temple. The two groups are not affiliated.


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