AUBURN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The St. Louis Catholic Church was one of the few structures to survive the 1933 New Auburn fire, but it may not survive these economic times.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish has announced its recommendation to deconsecrate and demolish the St. Louis church, after estimating structural repairs would cost more than $1 million.

"It became more and more apparent to us as time went on, more and more problems were surfacing," said Father Richard McLaughlin.

The walls are cracking, and water has been leaking into the building. Father McLaughlin said the Parish had to close the church for safety reasons.

He said the churches in the Parish are just getting by to pay the bills, and would not be able to afford the expense of the repairs.

"It's very difficult," said Father McLaughlin. "A church building is very special."

So special -- parishioners and city officials are asking the Parish to explore other options before the Portland Diocese signs off on the demolition.

"We need to do more than just tear it down," said City Councilor Leroy Walker.

"We need to look at all the options, and there may be someone who can buy the building and maintain it to keep it for New Auburn and the Auburn area."

The Parish's report and recommendation for demolition now goes before the Portland Diocese for approval.

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