MADISON — The signage for the former Our Lady of Mercy School has been removed and the building that once housed classrooms has been reduced to rubble.
The former school, at 149 Neck Road, closed at the end of the 2017-18 school year.
The 40 acres of waterfront property, which accommodated OLM and Mercy by the Sea, a spiritual retreat and conference center, is owned by the Rhode Island-based Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Northeast Community. The school occupied about 7 acres.
“Since maintaining an empty building is both costly and risky, the leadership of the Sisters of Mercy made the decision to have the building taken down and the resulting area returned to its natural state with grass and wildflowers forming a meadow on the property abutting Neck Road,” wrote Sister Peg Sullivan in an email.
The signage at the entrance to the property now welcomes visitors to the Mercy by the Sea Retreat and Conference Center.
“In the future there will be improved lighting that will provide better visibility of the entrance and exit to Mercy by the Sea while keeping light pollution to a minimum,” wrote Sullivan. “We hope all will continue to enjoy the spirit and natural surroundings of Mercy by the Sea into the future.”
For former students, seeing piles of debris and heavy machinery where their school once stood, stirs up nostalgia.
“It was my school,” said Catherine Flynn Donovan. “The Sisters of Mercy taught me how to write, have good penmanship and diagram a sentence like nobody’s business.”
Donovan attended the school from 1967 through 1972.
At that time, it was known as Our Lady of Mercy Country Day School and was run by the Sisters of Mercy. From 2006 until it closed in 2018, the coeducational Catholic school was sponsored by St. George Church in Guilford and St. Margaret Church in Madison under the direction of the Archdiocese of Hartford.
Donovan said the demolition really marked the final chapter of the school.
“All my siblings, and several friends I still keep in touch with are heartbroken,” she said.