SALEM — If you’re interested in urban transformations, you might want to attend Sunday’s open house at 135 Lafayette St.
That’s the new apartment building where St. Joseph Church used to be. It has 51 apartments and space for a retail store and community room.
The open house is from noon to 2 p.m., and anyone who goes will get a chance to look inside a model apartment and tour the building.
If you venture out back by the parking lot, you will notice an old cornerstone with 1911 inscribed on it, which means it’s from the magnificent church destroyed in the Great Fire of 1914.
The open house is free and open to all.
You might not have known Russ Kiernan, but he was quite an important person in the downtown.
He and his brother, Donald, founded the Marine Arts Gallery on Essex Street more than 40 years ago. It grew into one of the city’s best-known galleries, filled with magnificent seascapes and other paintings sold to art collectors far and wide.
Russ maintained a relatively low profile until Peabody Essex Museum launched its $125 million expansion a decade ago. The gallery was right where the museum wanted to build, at the corner of a city street that the museum later acquired.
Try as he might, PEM Executive Director Dan Monroe couldn’t get the gallery to budge from its prime spot. The battle grew acrimonious, with lawsuits filed and Monroe even going public about offering the Kiernans more than $1 million to relocate.
The gallery never moved, and today sits at the best location imaginable — right at the main entrance to the museum.
We write all this because Russ died last weekend at the age of 86. His large family and friends gather today for a funeral Mass at Immaculate Conception Church.