FAIRFIELD — The former Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church has been sold to a couple who plan to restore the building and make it a private residence.

Derek and Heather Hussey, of Skowhegan, bought the church complex earlier this month from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and took possession of the property on April 17.

In an interview Monday, Heather Hussey said she and her husband intend to restore the 13,224-square-foot brick church into a home for the couple and their two year-old daughter, Seven.

She and Derek were already looking for a “unique” new home and fell in love with the church the first time they looked at it.

“We pretty much knew when we saw it the first time,” Heather Hussey said.

“It’s a unique building, it’s absolutely gorgeous and it’s a shame to see it stand there empty,” she said.

The church complex at 19 and 21 High St. is situated on more than an acre and a half of land and includes the main church, a two-story school building, rectory residence, parking lot and two-car garage. In all, there is nearly 37,100 square feet of building space on the property.

The church was closed by the Waterville-based Corpus Christi Parish four years ago at the same time it shuttered St. Theresa Church in Oakland and St. Bridget Church in Vassalboro.

The Fairfield church was originally built in 1895 and was renovated in 1960. It was on the market, through Malone Commercial Brokers, of Portland, for $175,000, although Hussey said the couple bought it for less than the asking price.

While she wasn’t sure how many inquiries the company received, she didn’t believe there was much interest in the property, Hussey said.

“There’s probably not a huge demand for enormous old churches,” she said.

She grew up in Thorndike, and Derek was raised in Jackman. Until a few years ago, they were living in Jackman until they bought a home in Skowhegan, Hussey said. Heather, 38, works as a nurse at Redington-Fairview hospital, while Derek, 39, is the technology director for the SAD 13 school district in Bingham.

Even though they both grew up near the area, they don’t have a personal connection to the church.

“We’re not even Catholic or even religious,” Hussey said.

While the church itself is “absolutely gorgeous,” the school building has some roof damage and is “in pretty rough shape,” Hussey said. The family will live in the rectory building while it sets to work making the church into their primary home. They also intend to fix up the school roof and turn that into a space for parking and storage.

Considering its size and the expectations that a restored church building would be best suited to a commercial use, it took a “lot of leg work” before Skowhegan Savings Bank would approve a standard home mortgage to buy the building, Hussey said.

The family has already started to move in some of their belongings and hope to be out of their home in Skowhegan sometime early this summer.

Hussey couldn’t put her finger on exactly what inspired them to buy an old church to turn into their family home, aside from a keen desire to find a unique alternative to a standard three-bedroom, two-bath house and their immediate attraction to the property.

“Not many people can say they live in a cool church,” Hussey said.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire

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