Australian businessman buys Portland West End church for residence

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PORTLAND — After falling in love with the city, an Australian businessman and his son have purchased an iconic building in Portland’s West End.

The Williston West Church, 32 Thomas St., was sold for $657,900 in December to Majella Global Technology, which is based in Brisbane, Australia.  The company is owned and run by Frank Monsour and his son, Sebastian. 

In addition to its home base in Australia, Majella has an office in the Time & Temperature building, 477 Congress St..

“Sebastian travels to this country once a month, and will be staying (at the church),” said Patrick Costin, a parishioner of the Williston West Church.

The church, which was built in 1841, merged its congregation with the Immanuel Baptist Church on High Street last summer. It has been used by many neighborhood groups as a meeting space, and rented by a nursery school for the past 20 years.

The nursery school is looking for a new space and the groups will have to find someplace else to meet, Costin said.

The building is on the National Registry of Historic Places and is in a historic district, which means Monsour will be limited in what he can do to the building’s facade and basic features.

“Tearing it down would be difficult. The church was pretty careful with how they dealt with that,” said real estate broker Nate Stevens of C.B. Boulos, who represented the church in the sale.

Stevens said the buyers gave no indication they wanted to change the church’s appearance.

According to Majella’s website, its main focus is data collection and management, particularly immediately following disasters.

Monsour is the managing director of Majella Enterprises and was a surgeon at the Queensland Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Training Unit in Australia.

Calls to Majella were not returned, but Costin said Monsour lives in a home of a similar vintage in Australia, and that he loves old architecture. He said Monsour said he planned to renovate the parish hall area into a residence, and may make the sanctuary available for religious use.

“If you like historic buildings, (Williston West Church) has a lot of its original charm,” Costin said.

Although the economy and a shrinking congregation forced the parish to sell the building, he said the congregation is relieved the buyer intends to maintain the church’s historic appearance.

“Our congregation feels really happy we found someone who has the resources and the emotional connection to the building to allow it to get restored and cared for in a way it deserves,” he said. “We wish it could have been us, and it’s sad that 140 years of worship there has come to an end, but we’re glad this is how it turned out.”

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.

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The Williston West Church, 32 Thomas St., in Portland’s West End, was sold recently to an Australian businessman.

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