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Former St. Joseph’s Church Goes Down

church-left.jpgMuch to the dismay of many local historical enthusiasts, St. Joseph’s Church, located in downtown Springfield, MA, is in the process of being torn down by its new owner, Windsor, CT-based Colvest Group.

Opponents of the building’s demolition were hoping Colvest Group would find a way to preserve the 135-year-old building, but such an option was not in the real estate developer’s plans for the site.

Realistically speaking, finding an owner willing to rehabilitate the building was probably a long-shot hope, at best. Unlike the Old First Church, which was purchased by the City of Springfield and is being eyed for preservation as a meeting house or arts center, church-right.jpg the St. Joseph’s building is quite large, with adjoining structures adding considerably to its girth. Leasing space would have been a dicey deal, so too renting the place out for weekend events.

Old, historical buildings in Springfield should be treasured and – whenever possible – preserved. But in the downtown area, it’s impractical to expect every old building to be saved – even if they are revered old churches. For St. Joseph’s Church, its time has come and it has passed. But it will also be remembered by those who worshipped in it – and those who admired its architecture – for many more years to come.

See photos, below, followed by a brief, 4-minute video.

For more on the future plans for the property, see this Urban Compass story.

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St. Joseph’s Demolition

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7 Responses to Former St. Joseph’s Church Goes Down

  1. Thanks for these great photos, the video, and the plug.

    It’s heartbreaking for me to watch the building come down slowly. The process appears undignified. Is there a kinder way to dismantle the building? Couldn’t they cover it with a gigantic white sheet so we don’t have to witness the carnage? Then again, the carnage is pretty interesting, like at York Street jail where corridors you could never see before are suddenly exposed.

    But at St. Joseph’s, which for many good reasons has more of a current emotional tie as a place and a treasure, I was struck by how the notable spire came down first – like lopping off the head to make it clear the death has occurred and then working from there.

    The sooner the demolition can be completed, the better.

    Heather B
    March 7, 2008 at 12:49 pm

  2. I think Sy Becker reported it would be down in a couple of weeks.

    Bill D.
    March 7, 2008 at 3:52 pm

  3. In Fall River, back in 1996, an old church was saved from the wrecking ball and turned into a culinary school and restaurant. It was a great use of a building that had sat idle for decades. Other than Aerosmith filming the video for “Cryin” in the church it was not attractive to any buyers. Interesting side note, the main church building is now a function hall and a white box is painted on the floor where Lizzie Borden’s family sat during services. Imagine sitting near that spot during a wedding reception? Bad Karma.

    Jim Polito
    March 9, 2008 at 1:50 pm

  4. Lizzie Borden was just a misunderstood young lady ;-)

    I loved the TV movie version with Elizabeth Montgomery.

    Bill Dusty
    March 9, 2008 at 5:56 pm

  5. It is a great tragedy to see this beautiful and holy place demolished into ruins for the sake of materialism. Have we no appreciation for the things that truly matter? I am a former student and parishioner of St. Joseph. The school and church brought so much comfort to my life. I feel that a part of my soul has died. I only can hope and pray that the public will realize the presence and value that such landmarks bring, as well as a connection to the past. In the words of William Wordworth….”With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things.” The life of St. Joseph Church will forever be present in the lives of its people…..

    Genia Lynch
    March 12, 2008 at 6:29 pm

  6. My whole family, for at least 3 generations, were parishioners and students of St. Joseph. I drive by the site every morning on my way to work and on the way home every night, I am truly saddened by the destruction of the building and especially all it’s history! I understand the need for “progress” but it’s still a very sad time when you lose something that was such a huge part of your family’s life.

    Chris Rock
    March 28, 2008 at 5:28 am

  7. It’s simply SAD to see all of the stained glass windows removed from the St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Spfld. The once thriving church, school and convent will soon be demolished. St. Joseph’s destruction is a sign of a much larger issue, the mismanagement of our church resources. What of the $1.2 million dollars the Diocese of Springfield received from the selling the property? It’ll probably be used to offset the costs of having to settle legal matters with the scores of victims of sexual predators who masqueraded as holy men. Had the leadership in the diocese had the testicular fortitude to hold these criminals accountable instead of protecting “their own”, the number of victims would have been much less. Had these so-called leaders helped to prosecute the many pastors who have stolen millions of dollars from church coffers, including St. Joseph’s, I can’t help but wonder would any of these properties need to be sold? Thankfully, these criminals are few and far between. Take the time to thank the good men and women who responsibly manage our local churches, temples, mosques, etc. Praise them for their dedication to financial transparency and collaborative work with us. Respectfully challenge your church leaders to exceed your expectations. Our bishop should spend some of that $1.2 million on professional development training for his priests who are not able to deliver a motivational sermon! We could learn something from our friends in the United Church of Christ who evaluate the performance of their pastors and when necessary, fail to renew contracts for their employment.

    Lou DellaCroce
    April 4, 2008 at 7:54 pm