Church buys former newspaper property

The Catholic church is the new owner of the former site of the Shenandoah Valley-Herald in Woodstock.

The Most Rev. Paul S. Loverde, archbishop of the Catholic Dioceses of Arlington, bought the building from the Shenandoah-Page Newspaper Corp., a company owned by the Byrd family of Winchester. Totaling 37,500 square feet, the property, at 207 N. Main St., along with four other adjacent parcels of land, cost $335,000, according to Shenandoah County land records.

The property will be turned over to St. John Bosco Parish, a block over from the site, to use for possible expansions of the sanctuary and parking.

Gina Stetter, a member of the seven-person building committee for the site, said the ball got rolling on the sale in October 2013, when the Rev. Michael Dobbins arrived at the church.

“Father Dobbins will laugh and say one of the first things he heard as soon as he came was ‘Father, welcome, we’re so glad you’re here, we need more parking’ … he wasn’t even in the door,” Stetter said, and then laughed.

During the summer of 2014, Dobbins formed a “master committee” to find property in Woodstock or the county for more room for the parish, Stetter said.

“We have sanctuary space at standing room only at 10:30 mass and it’s close to that at 8 a.m. masses,” Stetter said. “When we met on the planning committee, we decided we had to do something because we were simply outgrowing the space we had.”

Stetter said, “It was one those God-like moments” when the property a block over went to sale for about $400,000.

“We decided this was too good not to pursue, maybe we’d get it, maybe we wouldn’t,” She said. “We put our name in the hat and the negotiations lasted throughout the fall.”

It is still undecided what the property will be used for, however in the short term Stetter said parking might be a possibility, while in the long term, a new sanctuary might be constructed. She said the plans for the site are in its “very infant stages” and are still pending the results of a survey among congregants, engineers and architects.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com