Developers are expected to make public early next month designs to raze a 88-year-old historic church in Worcester, Mass.
Developers of the proposed Roseland Apartment complex will unveil plans, which include tearing down the former Notre Dame des Canadiens Church to erect a four-story apartment building, on Aug. 2 at a Worcester public meeting.
The church, built in 1929, was closed by the Diocese of Worcester a decade ago. Multi-year efforts to preserve the structure have apparently failed.
Worcester is said to be “in a renaissance of development, dining and culture,” and historic properties like the Notre Dame Church in its downtown have been targeted by developers to make for Worcester’s new future, according to the website Masslive.com.
Located in the downtown of what was once a major industrial city, the church served for three-quarters of a century as the epicenter of Worcester’s once-large French-Canadian community.
The Romanesque Revival style structure was the first French-Canadian Roman Catholic parish established in Worcester, and the mother parish to three later French Canadian parishes in the city.
Historically, French Canadians represented Worcester’s largest immigrant population, second only to the Irish.
While some artwork, historical artifacts and stained glass windows have been removed for reuse, many stained-glass windows still remain in the building, according to the group Preservation Worcester.
It should be noted that the church is in desperate need of an overhaul, which would likely be quite expensive, given its size. That said, it’s hard to imagine a replacement that could prove anywhere near the draw for tourism.
Over the past 20 years, many Roman Catholic dioceses in New England and the Rust Belt have had to consolidate and close churches as attendance and parish membership has dropped.
Notre Dame des Canadiens is not listed on the state or national registers of historic places, but is listed on the Massachusetts Cultural Resources Information System.
The church survived an earlier attempt at demolition. During the dreadful urban renewal efforts that swept much of the US in the 1950s and ‘60s, plans called for Notre Dame des Canadiens to be knocked down. However, strong opposition from residents from across Worcester resulted in the Worcester Redevelopment Authority dropping its plans to acquire and demolish the church.
It doesn’t appear the church will get a second reprieve, however.
(Top: Image of Notre Dame des Canadiens church, Worcester, Mass.)