South Sound News

Archdiocese orders Pierce County church be razed

TACOMA, Wash. — The verdict is in on a landmark Pierce County church. The Holy Rosary Church in Tacoma will be torn down.

From the moment the archbishop's letter was being read to parishioners, it was obvious that the news would not be good.  He said he was making the decision with great sadness.

But that decision is he has ordered that this church will be closed, and most importantly, that this building be razed.  This comes as a major blow to those who have been campaigning for months to save Holy Rosary church.

"It is, I believe, it's a crime," said an angry Tim Faker, who married in the church. "I think that this is an iconic structure of faith that you will not see repeated. It is truly a foundation for Christ and the neighborhood."

"It's one thing to know that it's going to close," said 15-year-old Abbie Wolf. "But it's another to hear someone actually say it. I think my brother and I can agree on that. It kind of hits you and suddenly you feel all of this emotion."

"It's kind of sad to know that this church is coming down as it's about 100 years old and it's very famous," said Preston Wolf, her brother and Holy Rosary altar server. "You don't really want to close a church that you can see from the freeway."

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Seattle says the state of the building makes that necessary.

"Because it's crumbling," said Helen McClenahan, director of communications for the Diocese. "We had a contractor who was up top there by those small spires who was checking. And a large piece of concrete fell right into his hand while he was checking the footing of it."

Late last year, the archbishop barred parishioners from worshipping inside Holy Rosary.  The ceiling collapsed and fell in at least two places.

But Holy Rosary holds a special place in the hearts of those who worship at this church built by German immigrants in the 1920s.

"You know this is a city where the old Union Station is a federal building," said Carmen Palmer, a choir member. "And the old powerhouse is now part of a college at UWT. This city does not give up its old buildings. And I certainly hope it doesn't get this."

Even before the decision was announced, parishioners said nothing would stop them from trying to save the building. But they face a daunting task.

The archbishop says once they did all of their research, they concluded the cost to bring this building up to code would be about $18 million. Money, he says, the archdiocese simply does not have.

Read the full statement here from the Archdiocese of Seattle on the permanent closure of Holy Rosary.

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