Demolition on a historic building in Waterbury began Tuesday, despite a petition trying to save it.
The former Trinity Episcopal Church on Prospect Street is more than a century old. But due to expensive structural problems, the owners made the decision to tear it down.
“It’s heartbreaking to see that. It really is a beautiful building. It’s an important part of downtown. It’s an important part of our history and it’s an important asset for Waterbury that now is lost and being replaced with a parking lot,” said Waterbury historian and resident Raechel Guest.
Guest had hoped there might be a way to save the building. Since the 1990s the property has been used as a parish center for the neighboring Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. But after a series of structural problems were identified that engineers estimated would cost $750,000 to solve, the Basilica determined it made more sense to level the building.
“But there just wasn’t the resources to repair it,” explained Father Christopher Ford, rector at Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. “Even If we did, I’m not sure that would’ve been the best way to expend $750,000.”
“I have a passion for historic preservation, but the passion for the mission of the church is greater,” he added.
Norma Santiago lived next door to the church for years and says the neighborhood is sad to see it go.
“We’re used to seeing here all the time. Now it’s going to be empty,” she said.
A Change.org petition trying to save the church had gathered close to 600 signatures by Tuesday afternoon. That effort may now be in vain, but leaders who wanted to see the building preserved are now hoping residents can stop similar demolition elsewhere in the city.
“I would love to see this energy go towards helping those buildings. It’s too late for this building, but we can do something to save those other buildings,” Guest said.
The church’s rector said some of the stained glass and altars from the church were removed and given to other churches in Connecticut, and even one in Texas.
There is no concrete timeline for when the next phase of the project will be complete, but he expects to see that parking lot here sometime next year.