Former Rockford Chancery Building landmark status vote delayed

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ROCKFORD, Ill (WIFR) -- The fate of the Three Rockford Diocese Buildings still remains unknown, as the landmark status vote has been delayed once again. Last month, one of the Rockford City Council Committees rejected a request to grant landmark status for the buildings. We will have to keep waiting for an answer as the Council and the Diocese try to come up with a compromise.

10th Ward Alderperson Frank Beach says while this has been a topic for some time, he wants to see a resolution that everyone is happy with. Beach says, "I don't think anyone here in this council is in a rush to make those kinds of decisions that we feel are pretty monumental. We hope there can be some resolution that will make everyone happy."

The Diocese of Rockford's demolition plans have been put on hold while city council members considers recommendations from the city's Historic and Preservation Commission, hoping the three Diocese buildings can be designated as landmarks.

9th Ward Alderperson Bill Rose, who has supported the landmark status since the beginning, says that now more than ever because of the recent news in Paris that it's important to preserve history anywhere.

Rose says, "I think that when you demolish a building like this, and I think we're seeing some of it as with the Notre Dame Church that was on fire, that once it's gone it's gone. And so we want to make sure we aren't making a rash decision on this."

With the vote getting delayed, there is still hope that the buildings will stay and become a part of Rockford history. Former Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey, who has been in support of the Landmark status for months now, says while the vote was delayed again, this is a positive thing.

He says, "I think it was very positive development in the discussion over the Chancery.I think a lot of people, who share in the sense of community ownership of the Chancery feel something of the same that type of affinity for a building they may have never been to in a sense that we want to see the Chancery saved as a local historic and cultural treasure."

The diocese plans to demolish the Chancery along with the convent and Cathedral of St. Peter School on North Court Street. On that land, they want to create a prayer space and community garden, while also adding up to 50 parking spaces and deed the land to the cathedral. The Chancery Building has been vacant since 2009.

The issue will return to the City Council's Codes and Regulation Committee on Monday, April 22.