Wednesday, December 9, 2015

St. Paul's Abbey/The Queen of Peace Retreat House

Source


Sitting along what is now Rt. 206 in Newton, NJ, this beautiful monastery has been a landmark for travelers since it was built in 1924. The order lived under the direction of  Father Michael Heinlen, and comprised of mostly of men of German & Eastern African descent. These men were missionaries, and wanted to share their lifestyle with those in the United States.



The order quickly rose through the religious ranks, becoming a "simple priory" four short years after being established. This meant that  the order was now headed by a Prior. A new chapel, the "Little Flower shrine" building was added to the right side of the structure in 1925. This new chapel was built with pieces of the "Jefferson Street Church", one of the first churches in Sussex County. Four additional years later, the building was designated a "Conventual Priory".


Before long, under the leadership of Abbot Corinston, that the facility was officially recognized as an abbey in 1947. A peripheral focus of the order was tending to the 500 acres of farmland that 
surrounded the Abbey. The monks tended to livestock, crops, and even had a small Honey Bee colony they maintained. Among the most popular items sold by the monks were traditional Christmas trees. Folks from all over Sussex and the surrounding counties would load up the family and travel to the abbey to choose the perfect tree.



In 1962, a new facility was built across the street from the old abbey. The building would be renamed "The Queen of Peace Retreat House". It served as a pale for the monks to get away from the abbey and devote more time to prayer and meditation. The building would function in this capacity for several decades until the building began to fall apart. In 2000, the building was vacated.


A decade would go by before any plans for the abbey were presented to the town. Then, in 2010, the town announced plans to convert the building into low cost housing. The building was cleared out and prepped for renovation. However, potential budget cuts kept the township waiting too long and the plans were dashed.


Nothing else has come forward for the property in the last five years. However, in that time, the building was overrun with vandals. The once peaceful structure was now used to host parties where kids tag and smash up the building. As is the case far too often, the building will probably be demolished before long. Until then, I will continue to monitor the historic, landmark building, hoping it will see  new life.

17 comments:

  1. I would love to see something become of this beauty and would love to be a part of it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too. I would donate time working on it. So would the next couple people who commented. Maybe we can figure out a way to save it!

      Delete
  2. If I have lots of money I would buy it. I remember it oh so well. Such memories & history should always remain.

    ReplyDelete
  3. If a few good people dedicate their time,money and skills we can change everything,this can be nice place for poor people to come and have free meal,play games,meet some people and forgot about the poverty for while.Specially women.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Who owns it now? I would love to get permission to explore it and take some photos. My email: billtracy138@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bill, the Korean monks are still there apparently, along with a handful of remaining American monks. Website is http://newtonosb.org/about-us/visit-us/. I dont know about the stone building; they seem to have abandoned that and are keeping up with all the other properties across the street.
      Should be interesting if you get in. Good luck!
      Amy S.

      Delete
  5. The Abbey was an important place for me in my journey. It is ingrained in my heart, as are many of the people I met there. I thought there were other monks there now, from Korea, but i guess i'm mistaken. It's not all THAT old; just neglected. Very sad. I'd hate to see it turned into housing. I am grateful for the time I got to spend there, and the feeling of awe i had in that place. We need more buildings like that.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The first time I saw this building was in 06 and I fell in love with it immediately. I've always wanted to turn it into an orphanage for small children. A girl can dream right?

    ReplyDelete
  7. So as of now are there any updates? I am totally fascinated by this building and the endless possibilities. The building is incredible as well as the grounds. I would donate my time and organize a large group to get it back up and running as anything. My husband would also be interested in purchasing.

    ReplyDelete
  8. So as of now are there any updates? I am totally fascinated by this building and the endless possibilities. The building is incredible as well as the grounds. I would donate my time and organize a large group to get it back up and running as anything. My husband would also be interested in purchasing.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I visited the building today...very fascinating but sadly vandals made a mess inside from what i could see through the broken windows.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I visited the building today...very fascinating but sadly vandals made a mess inside from what i could see through the broken windows.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I pass it at least once a year on the way to the lake. I'm glad I have photos of it in case they demolish it. I hope they don't. I wish I had the money to help repair it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I stopped by this afternoon just to snap a few outside pictures because I've always loved the building. I was promptly thrown off of the property for trespassing.

    They must have security cameras!

    ReplyDelete
  13. How sad. As an alumnus of the Class of 1964 CBA, Lincroft, we had our senior year class retreat here. In my 70 years, just heart breaking to see so much of this country's proud heritage go down the drain.

    Newark, DE

    ReplyDelete
  14. Are they selling the building?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Good day,
    Me and my friends visited the site right before we were to attend a concert in Stanhope. I took a couple photographs of the area and in one of the photographs seems to be something...from the afterlife. Has anything happened in the area that could have haunted it? Please do not heasitate to contact me if you wish to see the photographs.
    Thank you
    -Patrick

    ReplyDelete