HARLEM — One of the oldest orders of black nuns in the country is selling its century-old building on West 124th Street as its membership shifts and other operations expand.
The Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary, one of three orders of mostly black nuns in the country, put the building — dubbed The Motherhouse, at 15 W. 124th St. — on the market for an undisclosed amount Friday.
The move comes after the order considered folding completely in 2010 due to dwindling membership, representatives said.
“The sale of the Motherhouse will allow us to relocate to a smaller facility that is more suited to our current congregation size and planned expansion initiatives,” said Sister Gertrude Lilly Ihenacho, who leads the order.
“As we look forward to our second 100 years, it is with enthusiasm that we gear up to expand our ministry in Harlem and our other ministries across the nation and around the world.”
The five-story, 18,000-square-foot building was constructed in 1909 as a high school and college before being transferred to the nuns in 1944, a release said.
The building, the order's headquarters for operations, includes residences for some members and also houses a nursery school for children between ages 3 and 5.
The order, which celebrated its centennial last year, also has locations in The Bronx, Staten Island and Yonkers.
The group plans to build or search for a new property large enough to hold an expanded nursery school, which it hopes can accommodate 100 children from about the 60 it currently serves, as well as housing some members.
The move is not expected to take place for at least a year as the group searches for a buyer, a rep said.