HAMILTON – A group of neighbors are coming together to save Hamilton’s historic St. Francis of Assisi Church from being demolished and replaced by a replica building.
The Catholic church has been working on plans to replace the building, which was erected in 1896 through the generous contributions of pioneer and industrialist Marcus Daly.
Church officials have said the present building has some serious structural issues that are beyond repair. Their plan is to put a new chapel in its place that preserves the “theme” of the historic structure by saving pieces and using them in the restoration if possible.
But nearby residents say losing the church would be a serious blow for Hamilton’s historic “south side” neighborhood.
Committee members told the Hamilton City Council on Tuesday evening that they aren’t trying to start a confrontation with the church, but encouraged Parish leaders to focus on restoration.
“We further understand that the City Council has no authority to stop the church from doing as it wishes. But there is a larger issue in a historic section of Hamilton being put in jeopardy by this action of St. Francis Church,” said Southside Historic Preservation Committee member Tom Tunny.
“Overarching all of this is a need for the city to have preservation ordinances in place so that when demolition of a primary historic structure is considered by private individuals — such as the church planning board — there would be an opportunity for the community to have a voice, added committee member Deidre Engleman.
The committee is also calling on the church to share more details on its plans and the need for the new building.
Reporting by Dennis Bragg for MTN News