Mater Dolorosa Church in Holyoke is being torn down.
Springfield Diocese spokesperson Mark Dupont confirmed to 22News the Maple Street church is in the process of being demolished Tuesday afternoon.
The Springfield Diocese closed the 115-year-old church in 2011 when the parish was merged with the former Holy Cross Church to form the new Our Lady of the Cross Parish. Worship for the new parish has been held at the Holy Cross church location on Sycamore Street, and the Diocese had cited concerns about the safety of Mater Dolorosa’s steeple.
Diocese Spokesman Mark Dupont told 22News the building was just too unsafe.
“The second structural engineer found even more need for repair,” Dupont told 22News. “We also spent months negotiating with separate groups, so we really went through all kinds of exhaustive efforts to try to avoid the demolition of the church. In the end, safety was a factor, we couldn’t turn a blind eye to.”
Terry Boyer’s two grandchildren had attended the Mater Dolorosa school. The Chicopee resident told 22News, she’s saddened to see the church being demolished.
“This is a loss for Holyoke, a historic loss,” said Boyer. “They fought hard to keep the church as a downtown landmark, a landmark for many years.”
Former parishioners had fought the closure of the church and had also made attempts to preserve the building, including an effort to have the city purchase and preserve the church. In the past, there had also been a proposal to create a Polish Heritage Historic District that would include the church building.
Dupont called it “a painful day,” saying the diocese understood the emotions, but that safety was the compelling factor.