ROCKFORD (WREX) — Roughly a dozen people told Rockford city leaders Wednesday night they don’t want to see the nearly century old building destroyed.
“How does a parking lot benefit the cathedral, the neighborhood and His ministry?” Gwen Lashock says.
Lashock says she worked in that building for a decade as a receptionist. She says what stuck out to her the most was its unique and detailed architecture.
“The bedrooms were like something out of a hotel, just the grandest hotel,” she says. “Just beautiful. Everything was so lovely.”
Now, the city of Rockford says the Diocese has started demolition on the inside of the building. Just before Christmas, City Administrator Todd Cagnoni told 13 News the city sent building inspectors out there and determined neither the diocese nor the contractor it hired for the job got the proper permits from the city to move forward with demolition.
Former Rockford Mayor Larry Morrisey and several other parishioners also say some items like chandeliers and iron fencing from the Chancery are being sold off online.
“It’s really horrible that they would do that,” Lashock says. “(It’s) pieces of our history and not just the church but of our neighborhood too.”
The Diocese of Rockford says it’s not selling anything. It would not go on camera, but it says it plans to speak out against making the chancery a historic landmark. It says the diocese has to do what’s good for its entire 11 county area not just one city. However, some neighbors say the possibilities of what that building could transform into are endless.
“Being creative is also part of the challenge and the fun and the challenge and the excitement of re-purposing those buildings,” Doc Slafkosky
In order to make that area a historic landmark, the city’s Historic Preservation Commission and the full city council have to approve it. That decision is expected to happen in the coming weeks.