AUGUSTA — A church-run home founded in 1870 to aid poor women in and around the city will close after a period of low residency, but the shutdown’s timing hasn’t been decided.

Leaders of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, which operates the St. Mark’s Home on Winthrop Street, voted last week to close the home, said Heidi Shott, a spokeswoman for the Episcopal Diocese of Maine.

However, Shott said Monday that specifics on the closure of the home — which currently has only four residents — will be decided at a meeting Tuesday night, adding that “there’s really nothing to report until they have made definitive decisions.”

Shott said the closure was initiated because of financial pressure stemming from the small number of residents. In 2013, church official Joseph Riddick told a legislative committee that the home had nine residents with a capacity of 17, and eight received financial assistance through endowments and trusts.

The home was formed in 1870 and incorporated as a nonprofit the next year with the church’s rector and vestry comprising the committee that runs it. The church has no full-time rector now, so the Right Rev. Stephen Lane, the diocese’s bishop, has assumed that spot on the board.

At the home’s founding, its role was to house homeless women regardless of creed, and it was called St. Mark’s Home for Women. Over the years, it changed.


The home now largely provides residential living for senior women who can live independently. But recently it has been shedding residents, and officials sounded the alarm there last year, going before the Legislature and successfully asking lawmakers to allow it to drop “for women” from its name.

Riddick said was that part of an effort to fill rooms by integrating men into the facility, saying “it is not a good use of physical and fiscal resources to continue in the current mode of operations.” But that plan never materialized.

Employees at the home declined comment on Monday, and Lynn Alberding, the church treasurer, referred questions to the diocese. Shott attributed the home’s woes to market forces, saying a lot of senior housing with other amenities has been built in the Augusta area in recent years.

“I think they were trying to expand to fill their rooms,” she said. “It’s hard. There’s just a lot more options out there for folks.”

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

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