Mount Saint Joseph conference and retreat center to be deconstructed

A statue of St. Joseph stands in front of the oldest section of the Conference and Retreat Center at Mount St. Joseph, constructed in 1874 as Mount St. Joseph Academy.

The Mount St. Joseph Conference and Retreat Center, which can trace its origins back to 1874 and is one of Daviess County’s oldest buildings, has closed its doors for the final time.

Earlier this month, the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph decided that the facility, which has hosted countless events over the years, will be taken down due to numerous structural issues.

Sister Amelia Stenger, congregational leader for the Ursuline Sisters at Maple Mount, said Friday that much of this year will be spent planning how to deconstruct the building.

“We will have to plan how to do that,” Stenger said.

The building, in western Daviess County, was originally home to the Mount Saint Joseph Academy, an all-female high school, until becoming a retreat and conference facility in 1983. The building has had several additions added to it and underwent an extensive renovation in 1996-97. It was also the home of the Diocese of Owensboro’s Spiritual Life office.

The facility has been shuttered to the public since the entire Maple Mount campus was closed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Information provided by the Ursuline Sisters said issues were discovered with the facility during a review of campus buildings.

In a message to supporters, Stenger wrote,” The engineers said the floor is sinking, the foundation is crumbling and the bricks made by Father (Joseph) Volk are deteriorating ...

“The cost to fix everything would be extreme, and we would still have bricks that would not withstand future weather events,” Stenger said in her message. “After the collapse of the building in Florida that killed so many, we realized that sections of the building could do the same.”

The Sisters “do not believe it is wise to spend an extensive amount of money to maintain these buildings, even though they have meant so much to us, Stenger wrote. “Father Volk would want us to move on.”

Stenger said on Friday that Ursuline officials examined their options before deciding to demolish the facility.

“We have been working with engineers and architects for two and a half years,” Stenger said. “We have done due diligence and tried every possible way to look at it.”

Even the newest portion of the facility, which was built in the 1960s, has multiple issues, Stenger said.

In her message to supporters, Stenger said, in addition to structural issues, the heating, cooling and fire suppression systems are failing.

Choosing to tear down the facility, “was a very difficult decision for all of us,” Stenger said Friday.

“It’s going to take time and planning to do this step by step. Probably the whole year we’ll be working to make sure we have everything moved.”

The decision does not mean Mount Saint Joseph will no longer host public events. The campus gym and auditorium, which has a kitchen area space, will continue to host large public programs and will be available for rentals, Stenger said.

Stenger said the Ursuline Sisters would remain active in their work.

“We will still be serving our communities in different ways,” Stenger said. “We have Sisters in seven states, and in South America.”

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

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