AUGUSTA — St. Mark’s Home will soon be put on the market after a previous plan to give the home and its endowment away to a nonprofit group was unsuccessful, at least in part because of changes the city made to zoning rules, a church leader said.

Instead of giving the home away, church leaders now plan to sell it and use the proceeds of the sale, and income from an approximately $600,000 endowment, to help the needy in Augusta. They see St. Mark’s Home’s mission as providing services and ministry “to those on the margins in Augusta, with the same spirit with which it was envisioned all those years ago,” according to the Rev. Erik Karas, pastor of the church.

Church officials previously believed requirements attached to the donation of the former 17-bedroom boarding home at the corner of Winthrop and Pleasant streets in Augusta required the endowment to remain with the home and to be used to provide help to poor people from that location.

But Karas said officials recently learned St. Mark’s could sell the property and keep the proceeds and endowment as long as the income from the endowment is used to continue St. Mark’s Home’s mission.

That original mission, as described in 1870, was to care for indigent women in Augusta, though the Legislature voted in 1871 to change the mission so St. Marks could care for all indigent people in the city.

Karas said the St. Mark’s endowment will be used to help “people on the margins,” including through existing church-involved services such as Addie’s Attic clothing bank and Everyday Essentials, which provides toiletries and services to immigrants and other new Mainers settling in Augusta.

“We looked for an alternative way to live out the spirit of the gift given to the church,” Karas said. “We originally thought we did have to do all that from that (St. Mark’s Home) property. But through the courts, we received clarification that’s not the case.”

Karas said Wednesday church leaders were meeting with a real estate agent that afternoon, to list St. Mark’s Home for sale to anyone offering a “fair and good” price. He did not specify a sales price, but earlier this year, the property was valued at about $270,000.

The remainder of the St. Mark’s Church property, including the church itself and the adjacent rectory and parish hall, will be listed for sale separately.

The church’s efforts to sell the properties prompted concern among some city officials and residents of the surrounding neighborhood, especially after rumors spread that Bread of Life might buy the property and use it as a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter or both.

In response, city councilors adopted a 180-day moratorium banning any new group, boarding or rooming homes in the city. The Planning Board and the City Council then approved changes to zoning rules about those types of facilities and where they may be located.

St. Mark’s Church members now hold services with the Prince of Peace Church at 209 Eastern Ave. Karas serves as pastor to both congregations.

Karas said St. Mark’s does not have any buyer lined up for either St. Mark’s Home, or the other church properties, nor does it have any preference about who buys them.

Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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