Holy rosary

Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Tacoma to be demolished

The Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Tacoma will be permanently closed and demolished.

This is the decision given to the faithful during Saturday evening mass by the Archdiocese of Seattle.

The century-old icon with its 210-foot-tall bell tower needs millions of dollars in repairs and is too dangerous to occupy, according to the archdiocese.

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain issued an executive order to permanently close the building, it was announced on Saturday.

The archdiocese said it spent more than 800 hours examining and analyzing the building with contractors. A team of advisers 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 chancel loft of the Gothic Revival-style church at 424 S. 30th St., off Interstate 5.

The archdiocese estimates it would cost about $7 million in repairs to reoccupy the building and a total of $18 million to make any necessary repairs, said Helen McClenahan, spokeswoman for the archdiocese.

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

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

An appeal can be made to the archbishop’s office within 10 working days of the issuance of the decree, the archdiocese said.

For 127 years, the Catholic community of Tacoma has gathered at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary for Mass, weddings and funerals. The original clapboard 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 home in the North End where they raised their son, Harry Jr., better known by his nickname, Bing.

In 1920, the present brick and mortar church was completed.

“It has been an architectural landmark since its construction,” parishioner Thom Ryng said.

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

This story was originally published August 24, 2019 6:11 p.m.

Craig Sailor has worked for The News Tribune since 1998 as a writer, editor and photographer. He previously worked at The Olympian and other Nevada and California newspapers. He graduated in journalism from San Jose State University.