AUGUSTA — The former St. Mark’s Home is now owned by Motivational Services, a nonprofit corporation that provides services, including housing, to people with mental illness.

The prominent Winthrop Street property, which has drawn concern over its prospective use previously, was purchased by Motivational Services Inc. from the former St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

The building, built in 1805 and deeded to the church in 1870, was for many years home for elderly women, as St. Mark’s Home for Women — though it also housed men in recent years — until it closed in October 2014.

Motivational Services officials did not return calls over several weeks seeking information on how the 7,800 square-foot, 17-bedroom building is being used by the agency.

Rob Overton, a city code enforcement officer, said the city has not issued any permits for renovations, nor did Motivational Services seek Planning Board approval to change the use of the site. But he said if the use there is already a permitted use, and the building didn’t need renovations, there wouldn’t necessarily be a need for the agency to come to the city for any permits.

Overton said a community living arrangement, which under city and state definitions would be a housing facility for eight or fewer people with disabilities or other needs, licensed by the state, is a permitted use at the site. He said Motivational Services operates a number of such residential facilities in Augusta.

“If that’s what it is, we’d only be involved in the project if the building needed any renovations to comply with code issues for that use,” Overton said.

The property was sold last year for $275,000, according to city assessing records.

Concerns about how the property might be used were expressed by city officials and neighborhood residents when the church put the property up for sale, in particular amid rumors that Bread of Life Ministries could acquire the property and use it as a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter or both.

The court system was involved in determining what should be done with the property, because a clause in the deed stated the property would revert to the heirs of the family that gave the property to the church if it stopped being a home for indigent women. A settlement with those heirs was reached in 2016, and the courts allowed the church to sell the property.

Ward 1 Councilor Linda Conti, who previously expressed concerns about how the property might be used, and who lives in the west side neighborhood, said she hasn’t heard any complaints or concerns from neighbors about the property since Motivational Services purchased it. She said the current use of the property doesn’t seem to be affecting the neighborhood.

She said it appears Motivational Services moved its residential facility previously located in rented space at 81 Winthrop St., just up the hill from the former St. Mark’s Home, to the home at 57 Winthrop St.

“It was kind of a wash. They just moved down the street,” Conti said of Motivational Services’ move from one Winthrop Street location to another. “It’s really no different than it was before. From what I can tell, I don’t think it has changed anything.”

Overton also said he had not received any complaints about the property, though he has had a few inquiries from people wondering what is going on at the property.

Motivational Services’ website says the agency’s supervised residential living programs “utilize the psychosocial rehabilitation model to assist residents in achieving their identified goals. Our programs are located in the center of Augusta. These homey environments allow residents to participate in intensive social programs and rehabilitative services within their chosen community. A 24-hour support team uses a consumer driven, growth oriented model to assist residents in increasing their independence and improving their quality of life in the community. In addition to our six congregate living homes in Augusta, we have two residential programs in Waterville, which provide the same services to those who wish to live in the Waterville area.”

Motivational Services, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services, is licensed as a mental health agency, with statewide capacity for up to 500 people in its community support services programs, and up to 200 people in its mental health residential programs.

Leaders of the former St. Mark’s Church, which has since merged with the former Prince of Peace Lutheran Church to become Emmanuel Lutheran Episcopal Church, also are trying to sell the now-vacant former St. Mark’s Church, between Pleasant and Summer Streets, as well as its parish hall, which is currently home to Bridging the Gap programs including the Augusta Community Warming Center, Addie’s Attic clothing bank, and Everyday Essentials pantry.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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