A building that’s been a staple for Rockford’s Catholic community for decades is set to be torn down. The Chancery on North Court Street has been vacant for years, but some residents hope it can be saved, including Rockford’s Former Mayor, who started a petition in hopes of stopping the planned demolition.
“Well it hasn’t been a problem, but its been vacant forever,” said Rockford Resident, Tom Wise, who lives across the street from the building. The Chancery building on North Court Street, owned by Rockford’s Catholic diocese, has been vacant since 2009. Now, it’s set to be demolished, something nearby residents aren’t happy about.
“The old chancery building is just an incredible gem, a treasure, not just for the church, but the entire community,” said Former Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey.
“It’s not an eyesore at all. It is part of signal hill,” said Wise. “I’m Vice President of the Signal Hill Neighborhood Association, and I don’t want to see it go. I don’t want to see it stay empty either.”
Former Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey started a petition online in an effort to save the nearly 90-year-old building.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the petition had received 1,207 signatures.
The appeal is essentially asking the diocese to look over other options before razing it. “The bishop can call off on his own authority, the demolition,” said Morrissey. “There’s already been a lot of damage that’s been done, a lot of the artifacts have been pulled from the building it’s really tragic what has been happening to the building.”
The Diocese of Rockford says demolishing the building is more cost effective than trying to keep a deteriorating building within the city’s building codes. They add renovating it would cost around $2 million dollars. Residents say they’re worried about the future of their neighborhood.
“We don’tknow yet what they’re going to do with the school when it closes next year.” said Wise. “Its a lot of green space for the neighborhood and we don’t have much left here anymore. This is just going to be another nail in the coffin for Signal Hill.”
Along with the chancery, the convent will be demolished, which will take place just before Christmas and be completed by the first week of January. A decision has yet to be made on what the Cathedral of Saint Peter will do with the property once it is all taken down.