Historic St. John’s Basilica sold for more than $3M

An iconic piece of St. John’s history and the city’s skyline has been sold for more than $3 million — to a trio of Catholic groups hoping to save the building from developers. 

“The feeling we have is one of relief and euphoria and excitement for the future,” Rob Blackie, a member of the joint committee who had been bidding on the historic property, told CBC News on Tuesday morning.

The basilica complex is one of some two dozen properties owned by the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John’s being sold to help pay millions to the victims of sexual abuse by Christian Brothers at the former Mount Cashel orphanage.

In May, the three Catholic groups — the Basilica Heritage Foundation, St. Bonaventure’s College and the St. Bon’s Forum — said they were making the move to “maintain and protect a vital piece of our history, our culture and our city.”

Now Blackie said their offer has been accepted by the accounting firm overseeing the sale of Catholic church properties in the St. John’s area.

Blackie said the committee’s bid was “north of $3 million” for the basilica, St. Bonaventure’s College private school and the St. Bon’s forum skating rink.

They received written notification on Monday from accounting firm Ernst & Young that they were the successful bidder, and the news was delivered to the 300-plus students and 50-plus staff at St. Bon’s on Tuesday morning.

Blackie said committee members are “incredibly grateful and humbled” by the support of donors from across Canada.

“It’s unbelievably good news,” he said.

A spokesperson for Ernst & Young, the court-appointed monitor overseeing the sales, said information will be revealed later this week on the bidding process. The official would not comment on the sale.

The court still has to approve the winning bid.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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