The former Rectory and Convent for St. James Parish were built in the late 1800s within in the midst of growth and expansion of St. James Parish – at the time the only English speaking Catholic Church in the city. The convent was surplusessed in the 1970s, while the Rectory housed priests until quite recently. When Dan Botwinik, president of Cougar Capital first saw the interior of the former Rectory he was beguiled by the original fireplaces and wood work and acted quickly to purchase the building. Renovation was possible, in part, because of the use of Historic Tax Credits, the first such project that the team tackled, with the requisite learning curve. Then, in the midst of renovating the building into four-apartment units they were contacted by the broker for the Convent across the street. Applying lessons learned at the Rectory, the team undertook the significantly more challenging project. The Convent had been unoccupied for some time, with previous attempts to renovate stymied by environmental issues (now resolved). As a result of age and neglect the building needed major structural work to secure the building at the roof and at the foundation. Once these issues were solved the new units were constructed with original floors, fireplaces, doors and a reconstruction of a grand 6ft wide plaster medallion in the former atrium space.
In both buildings original exterior details were retained – including access through the grand front entrances, a key concern of the National Park Service review.
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