Demolition of the Immaculate Conception Church at 15 Thomas Street has
begun and the building standing since 1927 will fall.
In the Feb. 3 Herald News article detailing the property’s transformation into 14 single-family homes, the project’s developer, Thomas St. Pierre, alleged that news of the church’s impending demolition was met with minimal pushback from preservationists.
The Preservation Society of Fall River typically treads lightly on privately owned projects and developments, but the city’s Historical Commission did indeed provide objection to the demolition of the Immaculate Conception Church.
Although neither the Preservation Society or the Historical Commission have the power to stop a demolition, the Commission does review demolition permits and it did initiate its only tool to protect historic buildings – the city’s six-month demolition delay ordinance for significant properties.
Unfortunately, multiple invitations to Mr. St. Pierre for him to appear before the Commission went unanswered, denying neighborhood residents, former church patrons, and any preservationists the opportunity to voice resistance to the demolition.
Despite what many developers say, almost all historical properties can be redeveloped and even old churches can find new uses.
We also believe that if Fall River had an administration that truly supported preservation, greater efforts would be made with developers to encourage and promote historic preservation.
Fall River can do better than this and we should do better than this. If we ever want to be a better, more desirable place to live, then someday we must expect better development from our property owners and greater support from our political leaders.
The Preservation Society of Fall River Board of Directors