Vacant Vernon Church Targeted by Trespassers Up For Sale

A vacant, condemned church in Vernon that has since become a target to vandals is now on the market.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich took over the former Sacred Heart Church property on the Hartford Turnpike in October 2017 after a merger of Sacred Heart and St. Bernard in Rockville, according to communications director Wayne Gignac. Now the diocese is looking to sell the church, rectory and community center and also seeking bids to demolish it.

A real estate listing states the building is “condemned due to structural issues with the walls.”

The church hasn’t been in use since May of 1997, according to the Vernon Town Clerk’s office.

But it has since become a target for vandals and trespassing, which has been shown in videos recently posted on YouTube.

In video shot by “Jack and Dave Explore” this past August, there’s an apparent hole where people could easily enter the building.

Vernon police are aware of the trespassing, according to Lt. William Meier, who mentioned a report as recent as September of this year. No arrests have been made.

Gignac said when the Diocese took over the property, it re-secured the building and has since added other security measures, including cameras.

There are no trespassing signs surrounding the site. But throughout the day Thursday, there were cars parked in the lot. The people NBC Connecticut spoke to were there for recreational use.

To the best of his knowledge, no one has been given permission to film on or in the site, according to Gignac. The parking lot is not open to the public for any unauthorized use.

Sherrin Roch lives nearby and calls the church an eyesore.

“I don’t know, can we go more than eyesore? But anyways. It’s very unpleasant to have it in the neighborhood,” Roch said.

Deborah Coulombe’s aunt lives in the senior living facility behind the church and said she’s seen a YouTube video from someone exploring the inside of the church.

“I don’t think anybody should be doing that. It’s been closed off. It states clearly do not enter. No trespassing,” Coulombe of Ashford said.

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