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Tacoma landmark Holy Rosary will be demolished by Catholic church

Tacoma’s Holy Rosary Catholic Church will be permanently closed and demolished.

That’s the decision given to congregants during evening mass Saturday by the Archdiocese of Seattle.

The century-old icon with its 210-foot-high steeple needs millions of dollars in repairs and is too dangerous to occupy, according to the Archdiocese.

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain has issued a decree to permanently close the building, it was announced Saturday.

The Archdiocese said it had spent more than 800 hours examining and analyzing the building with contractors. An advisory team recommended that Sartain raze the building.

Mass and other services have been held in an auditorium next to the church since November. That’s when a 5-foot-by-5-foot piece of plaster ceiling fell into the choir loft at the neo-Gothic-style church at 424 S. 30th St., adjacent to Interstate 5.

The Archdiocese estimates it would cost approximately $7 million in repairs to reoccupy the building and a total of $18 million to make all the needed repairs, said Helen McClenahan, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese.

The Holy Rosary Parish, not the Archdiocese, was responsible for coming up with the money. But the decision to demolish it came from Sartain.

The future use of the land will be determined by the Holy Rosary Parish and the Archdiocese.

An appeal can be made to the office of the Archbishop within 10 business days from the issuance of the decree, the Archdiocese said.

For 127 years, Tacoma’s Catholic community has gathered at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary for mass, weddings and funerals. The original wooden church is long gone but its masonry replacement with a blue interior is a Tacoma landmark.

The first version of the church was built in 1891 by German immigrants.

Henry and Catherine Crosby were married there in 1894. They had a house in the North End where they raised their son, Harry Jr., known better by his nickname, Bing.

In 1920, the current brick-and-mortar church was completed.

“It’s been an architectural monument since it was built,” parishioner Thom Ryng said.

In 1994, the church underwent its last major renovation work, which included a new $500,000 copper roof for the steeple, which is 50 feet taller than the Tacoma Dome.

Craig Sailor has worked for The News Tribune for 20 years as a reporter, editor and photographer. He previously worked at The Olympian and at other newspapers in Nevada and California.
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